Last month we broke a story about Senate Bill 2186– allegedly the brain child of current Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler, which originally proposed that the Superintendent of Public Instruction be given the authority to waive "anystate statute or rule" for the implementation of an educational plan of "innovation". Our concern was that this was too much power embodied in one person.
The bill had sailed through the Senate Education Committee and Senate floor without a single opposing vote. Our concern was then caught as it arrived on the House floor and was "rereferred" back to the House Education Committee where it was looked at again and amended.
The amendments to SB 2186 removed the original language in which it provided unlimited power to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and narrowed the scope of authority for waivers to specific statutes within the North Dakota Century Code. Yet, the power granted is still significant.
While the House Education Committee thought they got rid of the bogeyman, the bill still resulted in avery lively floor debate in the House. You should watch it. Though I will warn you, if you’re an advocate of limited government and not a fan of Democrats and RINO’s, it may just turn your stomach. Rep. Cynthia Schreiber-Beck’s (R – District 25) smugness towards Rep. Ben Koppelman (R – District 16) is particularly ridiculous in the video.
Though Rep. Ben Koppelman, his father Kim Koppelman (R – District 13), and Rep. Rick C. Becker (R – District 7) did their best to raise awareness to their House colleagues, the bill passed 75-17 and then went back to the Senate for approval where it received a 43-1 vote. And yesterday, Governor Doug Burgum signed it into law.
In my last article on SB 2186, I wrote this:
"Imagine this… suppose HB 1389 passes. This bill (and any other existing or future ‘statute or rule’) could be completely overridden by the Superintendent of Public Instruction under the authority of SB 2186 when implementing an ‘innovative education program.’"
In case you’ve forgotten, HB 1389 is the parental opt out bill sponsored by Rep. Ben Koppelman. As of this writing, it sits in conference committee where the House and Senate are working out any differences in an effort to achieve final passage of the bill. Then it would be sent on to the governor’s desk for a signature.
While I give full credit to the House Education Committee for recognizing and eliminating the unlimited power originally proposed in SB 2186, I am sad to say that enough power was left that should HB 1389 pass, I believe the right of parents to opt their children out of state testing can now be waived by the Superintendent of Public Instruction if those children are participating in an innovative education plan.
In the House floor debate, Rep. Kim Koppelman said in all his years in the legislature he had never seen a grant of power such as this. When considering his comments, I think of what Abraham Lincoln once said:
"Nearly all [people] can stand adversity, but if you want to test a [person’s] character, give [them] power."
For Superintendent Kirsten Baesler, her test has begun with the signature of Doug Burgum on SB 2186. For the good of parents, our children, and the future of education in North Dakota; let’s hope that she passes. Her history has been… well… less than stellar.
1. Video Link for Floor Debate:
2. Versions of the Bill: