Philanthropist: ND 'uniquely positioned' for school reinvention

Oct 12, 2017

Ted Dintersmith, being interviewed by Prairie Public's Dave Thompson.
Credit Darcy Bakkegard / Prairie Public

A philanthropist who has been working on school reinvention and reform said North Dakota is uniquely positioned to be a leader in helping students prepare for new jobs and careers that will be created in the near future.

Ted Dintersmith is an author – whose book “Most Likely To Succeed” – has been made into a film. Dintersmith was in Bismarck to speak to the Department of Public Instruction’s Fall Education Conference. He was on a panel to discuss education innovation with Gov. Doug Burgum and state school superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

Dintersmith said some teachers, administrators and parents “get it” – they understand students can get the facts from their computers or smart phones – and what they need is guidance to use those facts to solve problems. But he said others will resist.

"They're going to be the people that say, 'Higher test scores, more kids graduating, more kids into college -- that worked for me, why doesn't it work for them," Dintersmith said in an interview.

Dintersmith said the “old rules” work against many students.

"Kids that have real talents are told they're dumb," Dintersmith said. "Families are breaking the bank to send a kid to college, with no game plan for what they want to get out of it."

Dintersmith said half the kids who go to college don't graduate in a timely manner, either.

"There are a lot of things the 'old rules' suggest we do that leave kids very vulnerable today," Dintersmith said. "Everyone needs to understand, in a different world, same-old, same-old doesn't help."

Dintersmith said North Dakota has had buy-in to innovate in education, from the Governor, through the state Legislature, and through its Department of Public Instruction.

"If you don't change your schools profoundly, most kids will spend their adult lives in lousy jobs, unemployed, maybe in jail, maybe homeless," Dintersmith said. "Machine intelligence is ruthless."

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