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Democracy Fails As Executive Councilors Vote To Confirm Edelblut, Against Constituents Overwhelming Objections

Today our elected representatives have failed us and took another step toward the destruction of our democracy.

With a party line vote of 3-2, the NH Executive Council voted to confirm, the completely unqualified Frank Edelblut, as Commissioner of Education against the wishes of their own constituents.

“Republicans on the Executive Council let down Granite State students and young families today by confirming Frank Edelblut, despite overwhelming grassroots opposition, a vote of no confidence by the State Board of Education, and a remarkably unqualified resume for this important position,” said Granite State teacher Matthew Gerding.

“As a school teacher and a young LGBT Granite Stater hoping to raise my family here, I find it incredibly disheartening to see Republican leaders chose to confirm someone who opposes full-day kindergarten, refuses to oppose the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy, and calls education a ‘product’ not a public good.”

“Governor Sununu has taken every opportunity in his short time in office to turn young people away from our state. From nominating Mr. Edelblut, to raising tuitions at our state and community colleges in his budget, Governor Sununu is sending a clear message that he values politics over people,” concluded Gerding.

“Like DeVos, Edelblut has no experience or inter­action with the public education system of New Hampshire. Overseeing a state department of education requires an in-depth knowl­edge of how public schools are governed, how they are man­aged, and the challenges employees in public schools face. Mr. Edelblut possesses no such knowledge or experience. Other than overseeing the management functions of the employees under his direct supervision, the business skills Mr. Edelblut possess are not transferable to ensuring our children’s educational experi­ence is exceptional. Our chil­dren’s futures are too important to rely on someone who cannot hit the ground running on day one,” stated NEA-New Hampshire.

“Educators throughout New Hampshire strive to reach every child in their classroom, develop effective and engaging lesson plans, spend hours correcting papers and encouraging students to keep persevering. Every day for educators the theory and practice of pedagogy becomes real in the lives of the young people entrusted to their care. To have the highest ranking education official in the state bring only system level management and communication skills to the job threatens the future of every public school student in New Hampshire,” continued NEA-NH.

“The fundamental promise of a great public education for all students is under attack here, and across the country,” said Megan Tuttle, NEA-NH Vice-president. “We’re not just arguing over budget questions any longer; we’re in a full-on ideolog­ical battle with people who do not believe that every child deserves the same opportunity to succeed.”

“We are disappointed that a majority of the Executive Council did not listen to voices of thousands of parents and educators across the state or to the concerns expressed by the NH Board of Education about the appointment of Frank Edelblut as our next Commissioner of Education,” stated Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “We remain gravely concerned about a Commissioner of Education who, when running for governor, supported further diverting much needed funding and resources from our public schools.   There still has been presented no evidence, after a lengthy public hearing, to suggest Mr. Edelblut either has the experience or qualifications in education to lead NH schools and serve more than 180,000 students, our State’s most precious resource.”

“Our teachers and school district employees pour their hearts into the education of NH’s students, are highly trained and have dedicated a lifetime to serving NH students. They deserve a Commissioner who cares deeply about public education.”

“AFT-NH will remain vigilant in protecting our public schools and our cherished public education system in NH. We will always extend a hand to anyone, including Mr. Edelblut, willing to strengthen and support public schools but we will speak up and act in fierce opposition to any extreme agenda or attack on our schools. We sincerely hope that Mr. Edelblut will retreat from his past positions and start anew by listening to NH parents, educators and stakeholders in our schools,” concluded Ley.

“During the confirmation process, Frank Edelblut demonstrated he lacks both experience with and support for our state’s public schools,” wrote Executive Councilor Chris Pappas just after the vote. “It is clear that Mr. Edelblut is unable to be the type of non-partisan, consensus-building commissioner that our education system deserves. He holds political views on a range of issues that place him outside the mainstream, from his opposition to full-day kindergarten to support for gay conversion therapy. We do not need a commissioner who will interject ideology into the role, and I didn’t receive assurances that he would abandon past positions or steer clear of political activities after he is confirmed.”

It is plainly clear that the confirmation vote for Edelblut was purely partisan politics as usual. Two of the Executive Councilors openly admitted that they would vote to confirm despite overwhelming opposition to Edelblut’s nomination.

“Executive Councilors Joseph Kenney and Russell Prescott told us all about the concerns they heard from parents and educators about Frank Edelblut. Instead of listening to their constituents, they decided to put in earplugs and vote to confirm him in a blindly political move,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley. “It’s shameful that Governor Sununu didn’t consult the Board of Education before he made the pick. Instead, he followed the Trump model by appointing an unqualified businessman rather than looking out for the future of New Hampshire.”

“We are disappointed that Executive Councilors Russ Prescott, Joe Kenney, and David Wheeler decided to rubber stamp Governor Sununu’s blatantly unqualified nominee despite widespread opposition from the State Board of Education and their constituents,” stated Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “Councilors Kenney and Prescott specifically mentioned that their constituents were overwhelming in opposition to Frank Edelblut before going on to say that they would vote for him anyway.

“Community members should be on notice that Prescott and Kenney fully acknowledged that they were voting against their constituents on this nomination,” Rice-Hawkins added.

It is obscene that our elected representatives are completely ignoring the will of the people in a partisan political vote. It takes a lot to get people to engage in politics, especially when it comes to political appointments like this. Yet hundreds if not thousands of Granite Staters took the time to write letters, emails, and call their Executive Councilors asking them to oppose Edelblut’s nomination.

To Councilors Prescott and Kenney, those constituents do not matter.

This is where democracy dies. When our elected leaders only do what is good for their political careers and reject the will of the people we can no longer say we live in a democracy. The people spoke out and overwhelmingly opposed Frank Edelblut’s nomination, yet they confirmed him anyway.

This is a sad day for the future of our public schools and our democracy.


I would like to join Granite State Progress in saying:

“We thank Councilors Andru Volinsky and Chris Pappas for standing with the majority of constituents and experts who voiced concern over Governor Sununu’s unqualified nominee.”

(Featured image of Russ Prescott by Granite State Progress on Twitter)

NH Board Of Education Sends Letter Of No Confidence In Edelblut As Commissioner Of Education

Letter cites gaps in qualifications and overwhelming concern from “a broad and extensive cross-section of the public” that “virtually all have expressed concerns about the appointment”

Concord, NH – The NH State Board of Education released a letter of no confidence in Governor Sununu’s Education Commissioner nominee. The letter was sent to the Governor and Executive Council yesterday afternoon after the Governor’s late consultation with the Board; the Executive Council is scheduled to vote on the nomination this morning.

“The State Board of Education has a statutory responsibility to ensure the Department of Education is staffed with qualified individuals and that all children in our state receive an adequate education. We applaud the members for doing their due diligence on the nominee,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director ofGranite State Progress. “We strongly urge the Executive Council to vote down this nomination and urge the Governor to find a candidate better suited to the position.”

“After discussions with the public and among board members, we have to say, Governor, that we share the public’s concern about Mr. Edelblut’s qualifications for the role of New Hampshire Education Commissioner. The high level of concern parents have voiced about this nomination that is so important to them puts the State Board of Education on notice. We owe parents the Board’s full commitment to our statutory responsibility as the board of directors of New Hampshire public education.  We are prepared for that role and will exercise it with full transparency,”  stated Tom Raffio, Chairman of the State Board of Education.

Along with the letter from the Board, Raffio included 57 pages of individual messages, emails, and communications “from concerned citizens, mostly parents in opposition to this nomination.”

Full Letter here and below.

State Board of Education Consultation Letter to Governor Sununu

Video on Governor Sununu’s Consultation with the NH State Board of Education

Concord, NH – Governor Chris Sununu held a consultation with the NH State Board of Education this morning on his nominee for Education Commissioner, Frank Edelblut.

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Governor Sununu was unprepared and delivered a standing, rushed overview of his education commissioner nominee, which is in keeping with how he has handled the entire nomination process to date. Governor Sununu could not answer simple questions regarding Frank Edelblut’s education policy stances, and he blankly rejected that the Education Commissioner, like all Department of Education staff, should be highly trained and qualified. When pressed, the Governor repeatedly retreated to campaign rhetoric, further demonstrating he is not taking the real work of governing seriously. Governor Sununu nominated an unqualified and unfit individual to serve as the state’s top education chief. He should withdraw the nomination and start anew.”

Granite State Progress filmed the State Board of Education meeting this morning. Granite State Progress as well as several community members also spoke in opposition to Frank Edelblut for Education Commissioner during the open comment period of the meeting. 

Science Wednesday: Frank Edelblut on Climate Change Denial and Creationism in the Classroom

In testimony Frank Edelblut said he would rely on the ‘experts’ – but NASA and the majority of climate scientists can’t convince him man-made climate change is real

CONCORD, NH – NH Commissioner of Education nominee Frank Edelblut told members of the Executive Council that he does not need a background in education because he will rely on the experts, but when it comes to creationism in the science classroom or whether humans contribute to climate change Edelblut has chosen not to listen to experts. At the same time, Edelblut asserts the Education Commissioner has no role in science curriculum, standards, or oversight.

Frank Edelblut on Creationism in the Science Classroom 

Edelblut refused to clearly answer a Union Leader reporter’s question about whether he’d support teaching creationism in science curriculum, stating: “In science, we should study all theories of human origins, all legitimate or substantive theories of human origins … What I would advocate is for good science, and good science should support all theories of human origins, whatever they might be.” [Union Leader, Former opponent Edelblut tapped by Sununu for top education post, 1.18.17]

Edelblut similarly refused to clearly answer Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky’s question of the same nature, instead punting the matter above and below the office he seeks and asserting the Education Commissioner will have no role in anything to do with science curriculum or science standards. “You will be the chief educator to whom all of the science teachers in our state will report,” Volinsky said. “Do you subscribe to this such that the science teachers need to worry about whether you will require creationism to be taught alongside evolution?” … “As an individual with a master’s degree in theology, there are other understandings of human origins,” Edelblut said. “And finally, as the commissioner of education, I will not have jurisdiction or responsibility for the development of curricula. That I believe remains in the domain of the science teachers and the local school boards.” … He said it would be a matter for the state board of education and local school boards to decide.” [WMUR, Education chief nominee Edelblut questioned on qualifications, ties to Christian college, 1.31.17]

 

Frank Edelblut, Climate Change Denier

During a WMUR political debate last fall, Edelblut claimed it is unknown whether climate change is man-made, despite wide-spread scientific consensus it is.  

WMUR’s Josh McElveen: Next question we’re all going to talk about touching on climate change. As you all know, we’re all in one of the worst droughts that New Hampshire has seen in decades. Parts of the country are on fire. Others are dealing with historic flooding. So, we’re going to start with you on this one Representative Edelblut. Do you agree with Donald Trump when he says “This is just weather” or even “a hoax”? 

Edelblut: Alright, so we do know that the temperature is warming.  What we don’t know is if that is man-made. We don’t know what the causes of it are, if there’s other causes. And we don’t know that all of the efforts that are being taken have any opportunity to reverse that. So, I would be very cautious to craft policy around what has become, really, in many circles an ideology about climate change. So, I would not support efforts that would limit our opportunities for energy which we need in our state and in our communities or other areas.

McElveen: You’re not sold that it’s real?

Edelblut: I’m not sold.” [WMUR Debate, Frank Edelblut, 9.6.16] 

Fact Check recently published an article detailing how NASA, climate scientists, and other experts all agree that human-caused climate change is very real.

Fact Check: “Scientific evidence supports … that human-caused climate change is real. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that human changes to the planet, especially the emissions of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels, “are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” Human-caused climate change is also considered real according to 97 percent of climate scientists, as we’ve written. “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” says NASA. A team of more than 300 experts at the U.S. Global Change research program are among that 97 percent. “The burning of coal, oil, and gas, and clearing of forests have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by more than 40% since the Industrial Revolution, and it has been known for almost two centuries that this carbon dioxide traps heat,” the team explains in the Third National Climate Assessment report. The report adds, “Multiple lines of independent evidence confirm that [these] human activities are the primary cause of the global warming of the past 50 years.” [Fact Check, The Candidates on Climate Change, November 2, 2016] 

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: 

“Frank Edelblut needs to finally give a straight yes or no answer about whether he believes creationism should be taught as a valid scientific theory. We are also very concerned about whether Mr. Edelblut fully understands the role of the Education Commissioner since he continues to punt on serious questions. Edelblut repeatedly told the Executive Council that he doesn’t need a background or training in education because he will rely on the experts, but apparently NASA and the majority of climate scientists are not expert enough for him when they release facts that interfere with his personally held political ideologies. There is a real conversation taking place in America’s classrooms regarding teaching children fact-based science around man-made climate change, and even Edelblut’s fiercest supporters brought this up– albeit in support of Mr. Edelblut and in opposition to the new science standards.”

Flashback Video: Frank Edelblut Testifying Against Banning Unethical Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors

 It’s not quite like the story he told the Executive Council 

CONCORD, NH – Today as the New Hampshire Senate holds a public hearing on SB 224, relative to conversion therapy seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, Granite State Progress is releasing a video of last year’s public hearing on a similar bill when now-NH Commissioner of Education nominee Frank Edelblut testified for 20 minutes and also voted on the floor against banning unethical gay conversion therapy for minors. 

GSP Video: NH’s Frank Edelblut Compares Being LGBTQ to Having a Drinking Problem

WATCH HERE  

“Individuals who failed to change sexual orientation, while believing they should have changed with such efforts, describe their experiences as a significant cause of emotional and spiritual distress and negative self-imaging. Just like you would have negative effects if you tried to quit smoking – those people tend to have negative effects – when you’re trying to break a drinking habit, you have negative effects, when you’re trying to break drugs – you have a negative effect. So they’re expressing this concern.” – Frank Edelblut, April 5, 2016

During the public hearing on his nomination, Edelblut purposely downplayed his position on conversion therapy and LGBTQ rights in general. As reported in the Union Leader:

“Edelblut, answering another question by Pappas, did not commit to opposing conversion therapy for LGBT minors. He said his testimony last year on a bill to ban conversion therapy was meant to point out that the information contained in the bill was “inconsistent” with studies cited in the bill. “I think good science requires that you read the literature,” Edelblut said. “We had a bill that came before the legislature that made reference to studies. I read the studies and I understood what the underlying issues were, so I could be knowledgeable about the bill. When I saw inconsistencies in the studies with the information presented, I thought it was important to that we made that information public.” [Union Leader, NH Primary Source: Ayotte-Trump ‘fence-mending’ welcomed by key Republicans, February 2, 2017; HB1661, Roll Call #167, 3/23/2016] 

In reality, Edelblut is on the fundraising board of directors for Patrick Henry College, an evangelical college that explicitly prohibits homosexuality and marriage equality, students dressing “in a way that will cause others to mistake them for a member of the other sex” and transgender rights.

  • “The College chooses to limit its student body, board, and staff to those who are committed to its statement of faith. The practice of homosexual conduct or other extramarital sexual relations is inconsistent with the College’s faith position.” [Patrick Henry College, Student Handbook, 2016]
  • “Students will dress modestly out of consideration for one another.  Also, students will not dress in a way that will cause others to mistake them for a member of the other sex (e.g., 1 Tim 2:9; Deut 22:5).” [Patrick Henry College, Student Handbook, 2016]
  • “Sexual Identity: Since God created mankind in His own image as male and female, men and women are sexually different but with equal personal dignity.  Consequently, any attempts to physically change, alter, or disagree with one’s predominant biological sex, including but not limited to elective sex-reassignment, transvestite, transgender, or non-binary “genderqueer” acts or conduct are sinful.” [Patrick Henry College, Student Handbook, 2016]
  • From local newspaper of record: “Gay students at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville don’t exist. They can’t exist. So says Dr. Michael Farris, the college’s founder and chancellor. It’s simple, really. Homosexuals can’t exist at Patrick Henry College because the students sign an honor code, Farris claimed. “[Homosexuals] could not sign our honor code,” Farris said, adding that he considers the actions of gay men and women “sinful.” [Loudoun Times-Mirror, ‘Queer at Patrick Henry College’ vexes school’s chancellor, Dec. 12, 2012]
  • “Statement of Ethical Values and Standards. All trustees, administrators, and staff of Patrick Henry College have the right, privilege, and responsibility to … Integrate a biblical worldview into all aspects of their professional lives.” [Patrick Henry College, Student Handbook, 2016]

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: 

“Edelblut compared anti-LGBTQ counseling – and therefore, being gay or lesbian – to counseling to end a smoking, drinking, or drug addiction. He also spoke out against the federal Department of Education’s guidance on transgender students which sought to ensure transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment. He’s spent at least seven years fundraising for a college that considers marriage equality a sin and openly prohibits students from being gay, lesbian, or transgender. The college also states very clearly that those connected with it have a responsibility to ‘integrate a biblical worldview into all aspects of their professional lives.’ Edelblut’s anti-LGBTQ background and activities raise real concerns about whether he will work to ensure all children have a safe and welcoming learning environment in New Hampshire.”

Breaking: Governor Sununu Considered Free State Project Member Jody Underwood for NH Education Commissioner*

*According to Free Stater Jody Underwood, she was under consideration for NH Education Commissioner 

New Hampshire deserves to know if Frank Edelblut will consider her for any division director openings at Department of Education – at the same time her family is pushing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country

From Wikipedia CC

MANCHESTER, NH – Free State Project member Jody Underwood claims she was considered for the position of NH Commissioner of Education. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: 

“Governor Sununu should answer whether he considered Jody Underwood for the position of NH Commissioner of Education, and whether he or current nominee Frank Edelblut plan to consider her for any open division director appointments. Underwood is part of an extreme political movement with a stated mission to take over state government and dismantle it, and her husband is actively organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country. Governor Sununu is playing dangerous games with New Hampshire’s future. Did Governor Sununu actually consider her for the role and does Frank Edelblut plan to work closely with her as he has in the past? Both Jody Underwood and her husband testified in support of Frank Edelblut for Education Commissioner at the Executive Council public hearing.”

Free State Project member Jody Underwood claims she was considered for NH Education Commissioner. Underwood made the claim in the description for a workshop she gave at the Free State Project’s NH Liberty Forum in Manchester this past weekend. The workshop “We don’t need no stinkin’ leaders: Getting things done in the world of NH Education” (sic) was held Saturday, February 4th at 4:00 PM. The last line of the workshop description – which was likely written before Sununu announced Edelblut – states: “I now find myself being considered for the position of NH Commissioner of Education. How does that happen, especially to someone who isn’t particularly political? Maybe I am a leader. Come find out.” http://nhlibertyforum.com/schedule/ Sat Feb 4 4:00 PM 

According to the Free State Project, the Underwoods moved to New Hampshire with the Free State Project in 2007 as “early movers” – the FSP’s most ardent supporters who moved early. Jody Underwood served on the FSP board of directors until last summer. She is currently a school board member in Croydon and brought a lawsuit against the NH Department of Education.

https://freestateproject.org/blogs/mover-stories/early-movers-education 

Underwood’s husband Ian – who also testified in support of Frank Edelblut – also hosted a workshop at the event. Title: “A Case for New Hampshire Independence.” Description: “The goal of the Foundation for New Hampshire Independence, a 501c3 nonprofit, is to educate Granite Staters about the benefits of the ‘Live Free or Die’ state peacefully declaring its independence and separating from the federal government of the United States. Join FNHI board members Ian Underwood of Bardo Project and Carla Gericke, president of FNHI, to discuss what the future of New Hampshire could look like as an autonomous state.” http://nhlibertyforum.com/schedule/ Fri Feb 3 10:00 AM (Carla Gericke is the former President of the Free State Project – she also testified in support of Frank Edelblut) 

Frank Edelblut has a history of involvement with the Free State Project. As recently as last summer, Edelblut participated in a panel at the Free State Project’s annual PorcFest. The workshop was titled “Exploring Your Child’s Educational Fit” and the description read: “This group of experienced parents have directed their children’s educations. Come hear their experiences with homeschooling, charter schools, private schools, and online education.” The workshop notably does not include traditional public education as a potential educational fit, nor does it include any perspectives from a traditional public education family. The panel was moderated by Jody Underwood and Frank Edelblut participated as a panelist.

https://freestateproject.org/blogs/education-activism-track-porcfest-xiii-exceptional-dont-miss-it

About the Free State Project. A decade ago, the ultra-extreme Free State Project voted on a state to move 20,000 libertarians to, with the stated purpose to take over state government and dismantle it. New Hampshire was unfortunately the unlucky recipient of that vote. The Free State Project seeks to create a libertarian “utopia” void of public infrastructure and common laws, and to use their numbers to dramatically change New Hampshire. The Free State Project even threatens to secede from the rest of the country once it meets its initial goals: 

“Once we’ve taken over the state government, we can slash state and local budgets, which make up a sizeable proportion of the tax and regulatory burden we face every day. Furthermore, we can eliminate substantial federal interference by refusing to take highway funds and the strings attached to them. Once we’ve accomplished these things, we can bargain with the national government over reducing the role of the national government in our state. We can use the threat of secession as leverage to do this.”

          Announcement:
The Free State Project
 by Founder Jason Sorens

Granite State Progress has monitored the Free State Project since 2008, particularly its attempts to field candidates and disrupt public policy.

Unqualified Edelblut Needs To Answer These Questions Prior To Executive Council Vote

Questions Governor Sununu’s Unqualified and Unfit Nominee For NH Education Commissioner Needs to Answer Before Executive Council Vote 

By letter of the law, Frank Edelblut is not qualified for Education Commissioner – and even if he were, his views on education and children make him unfit to serve

Concord, NH – The Executive Council vote on Governor Chris Sununu’s nominee for NH Education Commissioner was put on hold today after it was revealed that Governor Sununu had failed to adequately consult with the New Hampshire Board of Education. Other things Governor Sununu failed to do include nominating an individual who meets the state law that the commissioner must be qualified by reason of education and experience, as well as ignoring several substantive questions regarding Edelblut’s past votes and statements.

The Executive Council should do its due diligence and get full, public answers from Frank Edelblut on these questions and others before moving forward:

Does Mr. Edelblut believe New Hampshire should have statewide assessment tests, and if not, what alternative would he propose? In 2016, Edelblut voted to allow parents and guardians to opt their students out of the statewide assessment test. However, on his Live Free or Die candidate questionnaire just a few months ago, the only question Mr. Edelblut skipped was whether he thinks statewide assessment tests should exist or what alternative he would propose. Certainly an individual who voted to allow parents to opt-out of the testing and who is now willing to accept a nomination for Education Commissioner should have a well-defined and articulate position on this policy. (HB 1338, Roll Call #155, 3/23/16, LFDA, Frank Edelblut)

Does Mr. Edelblut believe parents have a responsibility to educate their children? Does he believe the government has a compelling interest to ensure a minimum level of education for children? Mr. Edelblut sponsored an ALEC model Parental Rights Amendment that would remove community protections for children. This bill would have given a parent the final word on their child’s health, education and welfare – even if it meant the child was put at risk or danger. Advocacy groups spoke out against this bill here and in other states because of the potential for it to remove community protections for children and/or to interfere with an adequate and inclusive education, including whether to provide any education at all. (CACR16, Roll Call #134, 3/10/2016 ALEC Model Legislation: Parental Rights Amendment)

What will Mr. Edelblut do to ensure LGBTQ children have safe learning environments? Mr. Edelblut voted against banning unethical gay conversion therapy seeking to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In testimony, Edelblut compared this anti-LGBT counseling (and therefore, being gay or lesbian) to counseling to end a smoking, drinking, or drug habit. He also spoke out against the Obama administration’s Department of Education guidance on transgender students which sought to ensure transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment. If a family with a transgender youth requests support in a school district that will not work with them to provide accommodations, what will Mr. Edelblut do? (HB1661, Roll Call #167, 3/23/2016)

Why did Mr. Edelblut vote against requiring the Department of Education to designate a dyslexia specialist to support school districts with dyslexic students? The bipartisan bill, which became a law despite Edelblut’s vote, required the Commissioner of the Department of Education to designate a reading specialist to provide support and resources to school districts for identifying and assisting students with dyslexia and related disorders and their families.  The bill originated from a study committee that was tasked with identifying ways to improve outcomes for dyslexic students. Mr. Edelblut has stated he does not need a background in education because he will rely on experts to help shape department decisions, but in this instance he chose not to listen to the expert advice of a panel specifically convened to help identify ways to improve educational outcomes for children with dyslexia. (HB1644, Roll Call #44, 2/10/2016)

  • Furthermore, what does Mr. Edelblut believe is working with services for children with special education needs and what does he think needs to be improved? Can he name specific policies?
  • Does Mr. Edelblut believe in mainstreaming children with developmental disabilities? What are his specific policy stances in this regard?

Does Mr. Edelblut believe creationism should be taught as a valid scientific theory, yes or no?  Last week, Mr. Edelblut refused to clearly answer a reporter’s question about whether he’d support teaching creationism in science curriculum, stating: “In science, we should study all theories of human origins, all legitimate or substantive theories of human origins … What I would advocate is for good science, and good science should support all theories of human origins, whatever they might be.” (Union Leader, Former opponent Edelblut tapped by Sununu for top education post, 1.18.17)

Does Mr. Edelblut believe we should allow people to carry guns in public schools? Mr. Edelblut voted last spring to require all state-funded facilities to allow firearms on their premises, including hospitals, day care centers, drug treatment centers, and halfway houses. Parents have a right to know his position on firearms in public schools. (HB1314, Roll Call #144, 3/10/2016) 

How would Mr. Edelblut respond to various situations if asked to provide guidance or weigh in? For example, this summer in Manchester a school board member spoke out against books with what he called “politically correct themes like slavery, bigotry, etc., etc.” which he considered to be a part of a political agenda. Some of the books in question referenced Nelson Mandela, Jackie Robinson, and Amelia Earhart. The Executive Council should pose hypothetical questions of this nature given Mr. Edelblut’s background in politics instead of education, and based on the fact he wouldn’t commit to stay out of partisan politics if confirmed as Education Commissioner. (Manchester School District SAU #37, Committee on Curriculum and Instruction, School Board Member Richard H. Girard – Page 44 or Video – Hour 1:51, 6/28/16) 

Other possible questions: What does he think about the current requirements for para-educator certification? Does he believe New Hampshire should accept federal funding for education? What kind of relationship should exist between the homeschooling community and local school districts, and what is the responsibility of local school districts and the Department of Education in these instances? 

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins: “Its half-way thru the school year, Mr. Edelblut does not have time for on the job training. We need to know how he would handle various situations. At a minimum, the questions put forward at the public hearing should be answered by Mr. Edelblut before the Executive Council moves forward. We must speak up for a strong public education, and for leaders who will create a positive learning environment for all children regardless of their background, identity, or ability. We strongly urge the Executive Council to vote down this nomination and find a candidate better suited to the position.” 

NH House Committee Approves Overturning 94 Year Old Concealed Carry Law

Granite State Progress Statement on NH House Committee Vote to Allow Dangerous People to Legally Carry Hidden, Loaded Weapons (SB 12)

House Committee votes to overturn 94 year old New Hampshire public safety law 

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee held a public hearing and executive session today on SB 12, which seeks to repeal a 94 year old concealed carry licensing law that helps prevent dangerous people from being able to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons. Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“New Hampshire is opening the door to allow dangerous individuals with a track record of violence to legally carry hidden, loaded weapons. It is reasonable to deny concealed carry permits to those who are a danger to themselves or others. Requiring a license to carry a concealed weapon has worked well for New Hampshire for more than 90 years. These licenses are very easy and quick to obtain and do not place an unreasonable burden on law abiding citizens. SB 12 is a radical piece of legislation that will jeopardize public safety. The common sense law we have in place now allows local police departments to deny a license when there is reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others. For example, if an individual in a community is a known domestic abuser but has yet to be indicted, or has a hot temper and a habit of getting into bar fights, New Hampshire thankfully provides our local police departments with the ability to reject their concealed carry application.” 

In testimony Granite State Progress called on state legislators to decide whether they stand on the side of law enforcement and public safety – or with those like Mark Doyon, whose concealed carry license denial was upheld in court:

“In a 2014 NH Supreme Court case, an individual named Mark Doyon sued the town of Hooksett for denying his concealed carry license. Doyon had a prior criminal threatening conviction and an arrest for domestic violence, among other things. He told a Manchester police officer, “If you f.-k with my dog, I’ll f.-king kill you.”  The NH Supreme Court noted that on his domestic violence-related simple assault charge: “As part of a negotiated agreement, the town placed the charge on file without a finding, and a criminal bail protective order was entered against the petitioner prohibiting him from contacting the complainant.” On paper, Doyon was not a prohibited person, but in real life, he was not a suitable person to carry a hidden, loaded weapon. The courts sided with the local police department. As members of the committee, you need to decide whether you stand on the side of someone like Doyon, or whether you stand with the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police and other law enforcement who have spoken out against this repeal repeatedly over the years.” 

In addition to local law enforcement opposition, in 2004 Senate President Chuck Morse and several Republicans voted against a similar repeal bill. A copy of Granite State Progress testimony in opposition to SB 12 is available upon request, along with more information about how concealed carry laws work. It also includes recommendations for ways New Hampshire can strengthen public safety laws, rather than weakening them.

Over 5,000 Attend NH Women’s Day of Action And Unity in Concord 

Thousands Rally in Concord to Show Their Support for Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights

An outpouring of support in the Granite State for Planned Parenthood health services.

CONCORD, NH—More than five thousand gathered in Concord today to show their support for women’s health at the New Hampshire Women’s Day of Action and Unity. The rally was a solidarity event with the Women’s March on Washington DC. Those in attendance stood together to listen to speakers and to support the progress made for human rights, workers’ rights, LGBTQ rights, economic justice, environmental justice, racial justice, and reproductive justice. Rally goers were eager to voice their support for women’s health, equity, and justice in an era of uncertainty for Planned Parenthood and abortion access.

After the rally, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund hosted an activist organizing session which had over 150 participants gaining resources and tools to bring back to their local communities.

Statement from Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund:

“It’s inspiring to see so many New Hampshire women and Planned Parenthood Action Fund members out today to rally for our collective rights- like women’s health and access to safe and legal abortion. Today was a moment to come together to protect and advance the progress we’ve made. We are honored to be a part of today’s rally, because we know that New Hampshire has strong bipartisan tradition of supporting women’s health, and we refuse to let our rights be rolled back.”

Statement from Ilyssa Sherman, speaker at rally:

“If Planned Parenthood is defunded, millions of women like me will lose access to this critical provider. We can’t let this happen. We need to step up, speak out, and act now to save our health care. Because I have a preexisting condition, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed I may be blocked from health insurance policies in the future.”

Today’s rally marked one event to coincide with the #IStandWithPlannedParenthood national grassroots campaign, which includes 300 events in 47 states across the country. Speaker Ryan recently pledged to defund Planned Parenthood health services – a measure that would leave thousands of Granite Staters without care. The measure would prohibit the health care provider from receiving reimbursement for services, like cancer screenings and birth control, provided to patients insured by federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare. In effect, this blocks patients from accessing reproductive health care. Federal insurance programs do not cover abortion.

PPNHAF also plans to host three open mic “story slams” in coffee shops in Manchester, Portsmouth and Keene where women, men, and families can share the important role Planned Parenthood and reproductive health care access has played in their lives. The events will take place on January 26th and 27th at Book & Bar in Portsmouth on Thursday January 26th from 7-9pm, Brewbakers in Keene on Friday January 27th from 6-8pm and Studio 550 in Manchester on Friday January 27th from 7-9pm.


Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund (PPNHAF) is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.

Granite State Progress Calls on Governor Sununu, Majority Leader Hinch to Name At Least 5 Businesses That Will Move to NH If Right to Work Passes

CONCORD, NH – Granite State Progress is calling on Governor Chris Sununu and House Republican Majority Leader Dick Hinch to name at least five businesses that will move to New Hampshire if so-called Right to Work passes. Both politicians made statements during last week’s inauguration and interviews that passing Right to Work is important for business development and that businesses will move to the state upon passage. However, when media outlets questioned NH Speaker Bill O’Brien over the same claim in 2011 he was unable to name even a single business. Instead, both NH’s Commissioner of Labor and NH’s Commissioner of Resources and Economic Development at the time confirmed that not a single business had asked about the legislation:

Union Leader, Businesses are not asking for the right-to-work bill by George Copadis, NH Commissioner of Labor: “Not once has the topic of right-to-work ever come up in all of [their] discussions with New Hampshire businesses and prospective businesses.” [5.24.11]

“Right to Work is wrong for working families and its wrong for New Hampshire,” said Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins. “This is nothing more than an attempt to undermine workers’ rights and create another hurdle for working families to come together to negotiate for good jobs with reasonable wages and benefits, job safety, and job training. The politicians and special interest backers pushing this policy should instead support raising wages, end off-shoring of our jobs, and pass family-friendly workplace policies that respect the contributions workers bring to increasing profits in our country.”

Senate Bill 11, this year’s version of so-called Right to Work, is up for a public hearing on Tuesday, January 10th at 1:00 pm in Representatives Hall in Concord. Granite State Progress is publicly calling on Governor Sununu and Majority Leader Hinch to release a list of the companies they purport will bring jobs to New Hampshire if the state passes legislation that hurts working families.

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