Some Grumbling Over Governor Doug Burgum’s Absence From His Own Education Summit


Doug Burgum tours the Cardinal IG plant Friday, May 27, 2016, in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Earlier this week Governor Doug Burgum announced that he’d be flying to Washington D.C. to meet with President Donald Trump on the topic of infrastructure. That trip is happening today.

The problem? The trip coincides with an education summit Burgum has been touting for some time now. “Creating a clear path and connection between our education system, workforce development and exciting career opportunities is critical to preparing North Dakota students for the 21st century economy,” said Burgum in a May press release announcing “nationally recognized presenters” for the summit.

Not everyone is happy with Burgum for skipping his own event. I’ve heard from multiple educators who feel the governor skipping his own event means he’s something less than committed to reform. This tweet from an elementary school principal in Thompson, ND, is typical of the responses I’ve received from educators:

Some lawmakers are chagrined as well.

“Do you find it interesting that Governor Burgum won’t even be at his ‘highly touted’ education summit?” a House lawmaker asked me yesterday. “Is he really so naive to think visiting with the President will have an impact on federal infrastructure legislation?”

Burgum did address his absence from the summit in the press release which announced the Trump trip. “Because of the meeting’s timing, Burgum will be unable to attend Thursday’s Innovative Education Summit at Legacy High School in Bismarck, which will feature several national speakers and hundreds of participants from across the state,” the release said.

“The educators and community leaders participating in the summit have my highest respect and confidence,” Burgum is quoted as saying in the release. “Their dedication to our students is evidenced by the more than 500 slated to attend. We all want to help students compete and succeed in the 21st century economy, and our shared interest in transforming our education system means this will be the first of many opportunities to engage on this important topic.”