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A High School Senior’s Testimony to the North Dakota House Education Committee in Favor of SB 2186

March 24, 2017

High school senior Dawson Schefter from North Dakota testified to the House Education Committee in support of a bill promoting personalized learning.To create the groundswell that is necessary to foster policy change for our education system, especially as we focus on opportunities to offer high quality, personalized learning for every student, it’s important that we all share our experiences with policymakers and leaders. As voters, as parents, as teachers, as citizens. That applies to students as well, and 18-year-old Dawson Schefter from Langdon, North Dakota, is an example for all of us to follow.

Dawson is a senior in high school who describes himself as an “enthusiastic advocate for education in North Dakota.” He serves on the State Superintendent’s Student Cabinet and is the Immediate Past-President of the North Dakota Association of Student Councils. He is also currently serving a term as Governor of North Dakota Boys State.

Earlier this month, Dawson testified in favor of SB 2186, a bill that opens the door for innovation in districts across North Dakota by creating an innovative learning pilot program. This bill allows public and nonpublic schools to apply for a pilot program to allow for more local control and flexibility than they have under current state law.

Dawson’s testimony to the House Education Committee, in which he highlights his own education experience as an advocate and civic-minded leader, and how that continues to deepen his learning, can be found below.

Chairman Owens and Members of the House Education Committee:

As a leader amongst students in North Dakota, I humbly offer my support for a ‘do pass’ recommendation of SB2186. I have been honored to serve as a member of Superintendent Kirsten Baesler’s Student Cabinet, the present Governor of North Dakota Boys State, and the immediate past president of the North Dakota Association of Student Councils. Throughout this work I have amassed a network of exceptional North Dakota students; all of whom I have familiarized with this piece of proposed legislation with a favorable reception.

Young people in North Dakota have a burning desire to succeed. I have witnessed this time and again throughout my secondary education and leadership tenure. Each time that I have introduced the prospects of SB 2186 to the young people in my network, it is evident that they are excited for the future of education in North Dakota and what that means for their futures.

I often use myself as an example when illustrating this concept. As an active leader in my state and community, I have spent an abundance of time working in the Capitol throughout this legislative session. Through this work, I have learned a great deal about the functions of our state government, while simultaneously building real world experience and relationships which will have a great effect on my future. It is my belief that I have acquired this knowledge and experience because I am learning in my passion area. My passion when combined with the learning opportunities that exist here in our state’s Capitol building has cultivated what I believe to be a truly well rounded educational experience.

This bill would allow a school to offer credit for this type of learning, and introduces a plethora of opportunity and flexibility for school districts who are invested in innovation. My work on a national level has indicated to me that North Dakota’s students are among the best and brightest in the nation, and we owe it to them to offer a flexible, 21st century educational experience that will allow them to reach their highest potential. North Dakota teachers, administrators and students are enthusiastic and ready to cultivate real and substantive innovation as a result of SB2186, and I would humbly ask that you support its passage.

Thank you, Dawson, for your leadership and your commitment to education in North Dakota!

Dawson Schefter is an enthusiastic advocate for education in North Dakota. Schefter is a member of the State Superintendent’s Student Cabinet, the Governor of North Dakota Boys State, and the Immediate Past-President of the North Dakota Association of Student Councils. He has used these positions to continue his statewide advocacy for students, education and civic responsibility. Raised the son of an entrepreneurial family, Schefter has owned and operated Signature Signs, a graphic design company, for two years. Dawson currently resides in Langdon, ND – a small town in northeastern North Dakota.

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