North Dakota Leads Nation in Public School Approval Rating

The 2007 oil boom in North Dakota has had a trickle down effect on the state’s infrastructure, including education, where 82% of residents in a recent poll say they found their public school systems to be “good” or “excellent”.

That rating makes North Dakota No. 1 in state public school approval in the country, reports Josh Wood of the Bismarck Tribune. The state was followed closely by Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota, with each having and approval rating greater than 80%. North Dakota spent a record amount of money last year on the educational system, more than any other state in the country per student. Wood quotes the Governor Jack Dalrymple as saying:

“Over the last six years, North Dakota has increased its K-12 funding on a per-student basis more than any other state in the nation, This is one of the benefits of having a strong and diversified state economy.”

While the 2007 oil boom has drastically helped some schools in North Dakota, not all are sharing in the bounty, says Kevin Burbach for the Argus Leader. The New Town Public School district just built new buildings to house its teachers and broke ground on a new vocational center, while the Dunseith Public School District has cut back to a four-day school week to spare itself from having to cut teachers. Why does New Town get more money than Dunseith? The answer is simple: oil and a dam. Burbach writes:

Oil leases and exploration on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers is bringing in millions of dollars in royalty each year to New Town, Superintendent Marc Bluestone said. The Corps took over the land that was intended for the district about 50 years ago to build the Garrison Dam, so now the district is seeing some of that money come back and has reinvested heavily in its infrastructure and programs.

Both districts have relied on Federal Impact Aid Funding. This program reimburses school districts that that have large plots of tax-exempt federal land, such as reservations and military bases, says Burbach. They must also have large numbers of students who either reside on federal land, are Native American or have parents who work for the federal government.

While North Dakota is able to spend a large chunk of money on education, there are some in the state who do not want that money being spent on the Common Core standards. Duke Pesta, who is a professor of English, does not like the new Common Core standards and believes that North Dakota is giving up its right to govern its own educational system.

He is trying to abolish the Common Core in North Dakota and gives frequent lectures on the topic. He claims that the national government is meddling to much in the affairs of states and that the government is using the Common Core to collect data on students.