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3 Highlights from the Civil Discourse Event in North Dakota

Civil Discourse

Since Hanna Skandera has taken the reins as Editor-in-Chief, The Line has sharpened its focus on representing a diversity of voices within the pages of each publication. Issue 4 makes great strides in equally representing the rural, suburban and urban viewpoint across geographically diverse areas of the country through the lens of civil discourse.

Want to explore Issue 4? Check it out now!

It was critical, then, that the location for our next Civil Discourse event also reflect our commitment to diversity and give attention to an often-overlooked area of the country.

On October 30, 2018, a group of education and community leaders gathered at Prairie Knights Casino on Standing Rock Reservation, an hour south of Bismarck, North Dakota. One of the most rural states in the union, North Dakota has a population of just 750,000 and a strong and vibrant Native American culture – a perfect backdrop to focus on rural education and equity for all students.

Here are 3 highlights from the event.

1. Traditional Native American Performance

Young dancers and drummers put on an amazing show, featuring traditional song and dance, at Prairie Knights Casino on Standing Rock Reservation.


2. Address from Governor Doug Burgum

We were honored to have Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota address the group around courage, humility and gratitude.

Civil Discourse

Here are a few of our favorite quotes:

“What is the value of a student knowing the answer to something? We have to have a system that teaches curiosity because we don’t want a student that has all the answers; we want a student that asks the questions that haven’t been asked.” “When we move into this next period of innovation we have another equity gap. We have an opportunity, with better application of technology, to extend opportunity for our teachers and in our classrooms.”

“We have to have the humility to understand that the way it’s always been done isn’t always the right way. “ 

“We need to have data in the room, courage to face change and gratitude for the teachers we have in place.”

3. Panel Discussion & Civil Discourse Dinner

The panel and audience included educational and government leaders from all over the state, including:

  • Representatives for the North Dakota Indian Affairs office
  • The State Superintendent
  • Representatives from the Department of Public Instruction
  • The Chairman and council members from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • The President of Sitting Bull College
  • The President of the State Teachers’ Union

Civil Discourse

Together with The Line Editorial Advisory Board members, the group endeavored to model discourse amongst those with deep ideological differences but a shared commitment to improving education for the next generation of learners.

The topic for the both the panel and the dinner built on the foundation of issue 4 and asked the question – Are we advancing educational equity and opportunity across America? 

Want to explore Issue 4? Check it out now!

Elizabeth Combs

Elizabeth Combs began her career as an elementary school teacher and Director of Administrative and Instructional Technology at Patchogue-Medford School District before moving to Imperial Software Systems, a professional learning services company, where she eventually served as President. She then held positions at My Learning Plan Inc. as President and Chief Strategy Officer. With degrees from the State University of New York at Geneseo and Teachers College, Columbia University, Ms. Combs has a passion for leveraging technology to support educator growth and over two decades of experience developing solutions rooted in best practices for professional development.