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NEA-NH President Calls Idea To Arm Teachers ‘Abominable’

CONCORD, NH – NEA-New Hampshire President Megan Tuttle said today that arming educators is an abominable idea offered only to avoid solving the real problem with school murders.

“Politicians admitting that school zones have become killing zones and that our children and educators are unsafe under existing laws, is not progress,” said Tuttle. “The time for thoughts and prayers has passed. Politicians’ thoughts and prayers have only led to empty chairs.”

“Educators and other education employees did not enter the profession to carry guns to their work place. They don’t want to be armed guards, they don’t support the waste of money it would take to arm them, and they don’t want politicians to offer lip service and half-baked ideas masquerading as concern for students and educators. If politicians want to do something constructive and meaningful they would ask educators for answers. The fact that they don’t is proof that they are captive to an agenda they have been pushing for years which has resulted in more death, more shattered lives, more grieving families and heart-broken communities.”

“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence,” said NEA’s National President, Lily Eskelsen García. “Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms. Parents and educators overwhelmingly reject the idea of arming school staff. Educators need to be focused on teaching our students. We need solutions that will keep guns out of the hands of those who want to use them to massacre innocent children and educators. Arming teachers does nothing to prevent that.”

Tuttle announced that NEA-NH, the state’s largest educators’ and education employee union is convening a coalition of other education associations, first responders, parent groups, and mental health professionals to offer realistic, meaningful, and responsible answers to school gun violence. In announcing the formation of the coalition, Tuttle said, “it is time the other voices in the room be heard when it comes to this issue.”

Tuttle concluded, “We are the experts and the victims. Solutions can be worked out together, between people with a common good as their goal, not a political agenda. Students across the state and country have been raising their voices. As they do, NEA-New Hampshire will stand with them and raise our’s as well.

NEA-NH President Declares School Shootings Cannot Become the ‘New Normal’

It’s time to demand our politicians do more than express sorrow and regret when children are gunned down at school   

CONCORD, NH – February 15, 2018 – “On behalf of our 17,000 members, I want to express our profound sympathies to the families of those killed in yesterday’s school shooting in Florida” said NEA-NH President, Megan Tuttle.

She continued, “Some news commentators have said the killing of students and school employees is the ‘new normal.’  We cannot allow this to happen. Sadly, if nothing is done to address the issues that lead people to deliberately shoot school children and those who dedicate their lives to educating them, then this will become the ‘new normal’.” 

“Our elected officials have the power and the resources to stop this epidemic in its tracks. It is no mystery why these events occur.  Unaddressed mental health issues and bulling are only two of the well-known reasons why people turn our schools into places of untold grief and violence. It is time for us to demand our politicians take action to provide services which eliminate these risks.”

“Professions of regret and sympathies, while heartfelt, do not constitute a policy, or program, or take even one step towards a solution to the mass killings in our schools.  Enough is enough. If those professions are serious, then so must be the response, otherwise this will keep happening”.

“The time to do something is now, not after the next one, or the next one, or the next one. We’ve had enough of that.” 

Tuttle is calling on Governor Sununu and the Legislature to pass and fund legislation that would provide additional mental health resources; fund training at the local level for educators, education employees, and administrators to help identify at-risk students and get them the help they need; and fund long-term security measures in schools.  This legislation must include stable and reliable funding and not rely only on state surpluses.

“Sadly, every school must now have an active shooter response plan in place. It’s time for the Governor to initiate meaningful discussions with educators, school employees, administrators, community leaders, and mental health workers on what can be done to prevent such violence in the first place.” 

Tuttle concluded, ” We cannot afford to wait until we experience this type of violence here. We cannot listen to the voices that encourage us to postpone finding solutions or engaging in meaningful dialogue to stop these incredible horrors.  We must do everything we can now to ensure our children and the people who educate them are safe every day they enter a school. NEA-NH is ready and willing to work with our elected officials to ensure New Hampshire schools are a place where children’s laughs are not drowned out by the sound of gunshots and sirens.”

After Two Years, Amherst Teachers and School Board Reach Agreement

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Amherst, NH –  The Amherst School Board (“Board”) and the Amherst Education Association (“AEA”) are pleased to announce they have reached agreement on a four- year collective bargaining agreement effective July 1, 2018, subject to approval of cost items by Amherst voters this March.

Amherst PreK-8 teachers have been working under an expired agreement for two years, and this four-year agreement provides stability for teachers, the Amherst School District and taxpayers, allowing all stakeholders to better plan for the future.

To balance the needs of teachers and taxpayers, concessions were made on health insurance with the greatest concessions coming from the costliest health plan. The health insurance cost sharing arrangement will shift more of the premiums towards teachers each year, with the costliest plan shifting at a higher rate than less expensive plans – essentially, teachers who choose the more expensive plan will pay more for that plan.

The new agreement also addresses Board and AEA concerns about retirement. A scaled approach to limit the District’s long-term retirement obligations will ultimately eliminate costs associated with Section 14.4 of the previous agreement. Over time, the retirement model will shift away from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, yielding significant savings for the District.

Teachers who have not been paid according to experience for the past two years due to an expired collective bargaining agreement will have their experience steps corrected over the first two years of the agreement in exchange for a 0% cost of living adjustment during those two years, followed by two years of a step plus a 2% cost of living adjustment. Teachers at the top of the salary scale who did not receive cost of living adjustments in four of the previous five years will see increases of 3% in the first two years and 2.8% in the second two years of the agreement.

This agreement affirms the commitment of the Board and the AEA to providing educators with the development, resources and support needed to ensure the success of every student. This also means attracting, developing and retaining quality educators and staff who share our commitment to excellence in teaching as outlined in the SAU 39 Strategic Plan, and retaining Amherst’s ability to ensure that every teacher in the classroom is qualified, caring and committed.

Throughout the past few months, negotiations have been productive, with the Board and AEA able to reach mutual goals through a collaborative process. Both teachers and Board members alike are deeply committed to providing Amherst students with a high-quality education and allowing every student to succeed. The Board and AEA believe this new agreement will help achieve these goals while remaining fiscally responsible.

The tentative agreement reached by Board and AEA negotiating teams in December has already been ratified by teachers and the full school board, and will be presented to voters for approval as part of the Amherst School District budget process for the 2018-2019 school year.

NEA-NH Comes Out Against SB193, School Voucher Bill

Legislature Plans to Raise Property Taxes by Starving Towns of Millions of Dollars

Concord, NH, December 20, 2017 – NEA-New Hampshire North Country Executive Board Member Jon Dugan-Henriksen released the following statement on SB 193, the Legislature’s disastrous plan to raise local property taxes to benefit well-off private schools.

“Vouchers will divert public tax dollars from schools that need it, to private schools and individuals who will use it with little to no oversight, leaving our state to ensure adequacy with aid money that does not exist,” said Dugan-Henriksen.

“Data from other states show no evidence that vouchers improve student outcomes. In fact, given the opportunity to vote directly on vouchers, voters have overwhelmingly rejected them time and time again.”

“The one common result in states that have adopted vouchers is that they increase cost by requiring the public to fund two separate school systems, one public, and one private,” said Dugan-Henriksen. “This is something that neither the North Country, nor New Hampshire, can afford.”

Right-Wing Front Group Attacks Teachers With Biased Report On Absenteeism

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Yesterday, the Concord Monitor, along with a number of other media outlets across the country, ran a story about a new report on “teacher absenteeism,” produced by the conservative think tank, The Fordham Institute.

The crux of their entire report is that based on their research that public school teachers – specifically the unionized public school teachers – take more sick days than charter school teachers.

According to the report, “Twenty-eight percent of traditional public school teachers are chronically absent, compared with 10 percent in charter schools.”

Fordham defines chronically absent as being absent for 10 or more days a year.

Educators were quick to disagree with Fordham’s research.

“Fordham is a biased organization that is driven by an anti-student agenda with anti-public education funders,” wrote the National Education Association. “The authors of this study themselves note that their own research ‘cannot establish a causal relationship between any specific policy or factor and absenteeism.’ Fordham is using corrupted assertions to draw misguided conclusions that denigrate the service of hardworking educators who put the best interest of students at the center of their daily lives.”

The report specifically targeted New Hampshire along with seven other states, claiming that, “public school teachers are at least four times as likely to be chronically absent.

“The report did not look at New Hampshire schools specifically, instead it conveniently lumped together data to make their conclusions. I think actual abuse of paid time off is quite rare,” said Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH. “If a teacher is not in their classroom as expected, it is most likely because of illness, issues with child-care, or increasingly now, with elder care. And because of the limitations placed on public schools that charter schools do not have to operate under, public school class sizes are larger, increasing a public school teacher’s exposure to more kinds of illness.”

“It’s no secret that teaching is a high stress profession, and that stress is only getting worse. In addition to their assigned duties, teachers now also address issues of student homelessness, hunger, addiction and abuse. In some cases, teachers have acted as protectors and first responders as the incidence of school violence increases. Teachers dedicate their lives to their students, often reaching into their own pockets to purchase supplies and food. To paint them, as this report tries to do, as somehow focused only on themselves is shameful,” added Tuttle.

“A poorly-designed report that, for example, counts maternity leave as chronic absenteeism,” said Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “Using the logic of the report, ill teachers should report to work regardless of the risk of spreading illness to students and colleagues.”

“In my experience working with teachers and para-educators, they tend to under-utilize their sick days. Why? Because they stay late, arrive early, and are 100% dedicated to the education and welfare of their students, and hesitate to miss a day and hinder their students’ learning,” added Ley.

The report attempts to pit workers against each other by suggesting that teachers get too many “sick and personal” days off per year.

“On average, teachers get more than twelve sick and personal days per year, though only one-third of US workers are entitled to ten or more sick days.”

Fordham conveniently omitted the fact that 68% of full-time private sector workers get between 6-10 paid sick days a year and this does not include additional paid vacations days or paid holidays. Most large companies give employees more than 10 sick days per year after 20 years of service.

“The question the Fordham Institute should ask is: How do we recruit, retain and support teachers for America’s schools—teachers who, the OECD has shown, are paid much less than their similarly educated peers, teach longer hours, and have less time to prepare their lessons than their international counterparts?” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.

This report is nothing more than paid propaganda attacking unions and the collective bargaining process that has helped generations of workers in the public and private sectors.

“The report also tries to link collective bargaining with increased sick time, but what it fails to point out is that contracts limit the amount of sick time a teacher has available to take,” continued Tuttle. “Rather than leaving it open ended, teachers, administrators and school boards balance the number of days any teacher has available to be out sick with the health needs of educators, and cap it to prevent abuse.”

Even if you believe Fordham’s research, which is clearly skewed against public school teachers, it does make the case that unionized teachers who bargain collectively, get better benefits than their non-union counterparts.

“Educators at charter schools, most without the benefit of a collectively bargained contract, are often forced to quit because they don’t have leave and vacation provisions to fall back on. The reality is that charter schools need better leave policies, not worse ones, a fact ignored by Fordham,” explained Weingarten.

Fordham’s feeble attempt to pit worker against worker only proves that when workers stand together and bargain collectively, they will all do better.

NH Passes Full Day Kindergarten, Sort Of

Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 191 also known as “Keno-garten” to partially fund full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire.

The bill would pay a portion of the costs ($1,100 of the $1,800 per pupil) to expand half-day kindergarten to full day with revenue generated through the state’s new Keno lottery.  There are no guarantees that Keno revenue will be enough to fund the program in the coming years and the bill still does not require all NH schools to expand kindergarten to a full day program.

The National Education Association of NH, representing thousands of educators across the state, explained the dilemma over SB 191 in their open letter urging legislators to support SB191.

“To be clear, SB 191 as amended by the Committee of Conference, is not perfect. NEA-New Hampshire has always, and will always continue, to advocate that full day kindergarten be funded in full in the same manner as all other grades. However, NEA-NH also recognizes sometimes you have to compromise in the process of getting to your ultimate goal.

SB 191 is just such a compromise. Yes, it does not guarantee full funding of kindergarten, and yes, the funding mechanism is not necessarily the one I would have chosen. But it is also the largest step New Hampshire has ever taken toward fully funding full day kindergarten that has occurred since I began teaching 18 years ago.

…New Hampshire’s current method of kindergarten funding puts an enormous burden on the 70% of New Hampshire municipalities (covering 80% of New Hampshire’s students) that have voluntarily elected to offer full day kindergarten. SB 191 will provide significant tax relief to those towns, and hopefully, encourage the remaining cities and towns to adopt full day kindergarten as well.

NEA-New Hampshire believes that all school districts should offer full day kindergarten. While passage of SB 191 does not accomplish that goal, it certainly puts New Hampshire much, much closer to reaching it than we ever have before.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn is disappointed that Republicans refused to adopt a fully funded, full day kindergarten program and vows to continue to push for a fully funded, mandatory full day kindergarten program.

“Senate Democrats have been leading advocates for Kindergarten, and for fully funding full-day Kindergarten, for many years — we know this issue well and we know what this means for our communities. Passing full funding for full-day Kindergarten should have been an easy task. Governor Sununu promised to support it during his campaign and full funding for full-day Kindergarten passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.”

“It’s disappointing that in the final hour, Governor Sununu and Republicans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by removing full-day Kindergarten from the budget, abandoning full funding, and choosing to push a half-measure tied to Keno. Make no mistake, SB 191 does not fully fund full-day Kindergarten. But, Democrats will continue to lead the fight for full funding for full-day Kindergarten with no strings attached.”

NH Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley highlighted that newly elected Governor Chris Sununu campaigned heavily on expanding kindergarten and has “broken a key campaign promise.”

“The governor broke a key campaign promise today. Instead of the fully-funded full day kindergarten he pledged on the campaign trail, he offered a half-measure and turned a blind eye while Republicans gutted even that. Because of Sununu’s abject failure to lead, Democrats were forced to pick up the pieces and salvage what was left for the sake of our kids. Governor Sununu and the Republicans always seem to make common sense a complicated calculus. While Democratic leaders would simply pass fully-funded full day kindergarten, Republicans need to cut it in half, tie it to gambling measures, and beg their members to vote yes. Real reform requires real champions, and Republicans are anything but.”

After the bill passed NEA-New Hampshire praised its passage.

“NEA-New Hampshire applauds the passage of SB 191, and thanks Governor Sununu and the bi-partisan coalition of legislators for finally putting New Hampshire on the path to full day kindergarten,” said Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH. “The benefits of full-day kindergarten are clear. Those students that attend full-day kindergarten are better prepared to enter first grade, have a higher high school graduation rate and are more likely to go to college. Full day kindergarten is a sound educational investment and I am thrilled that the legislators in Concord have recognized that.”

Now that the bill has passed questions still remain about the constitutionality of the legislation.  Andru Volinsky, Executive Councilor, and the lead lawyer in the Claremont education funding case of 1997, told WMUR last week that the bill is unconstitutional.

… Senate Bill 191 fails to meet the standard set out in the landmark 1997 New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in the Claremont school funding case requiring the state to provide and fund a constitutionally adequate education to all students.

….The Claremont ruling did not specifically refer to kindergarten, but it did say that the state’s system of funding “elementary and secondary public education” at the time, almost entirely through property taxes, was unconstitutional.

“Full-day kindergarten is part of a constitutionally adequate education,” Volinsky said Friday. “And once you understand that concept, you understand that the state must pay for constitutional adequacy.”

Volinsky also said, by failing to fully fund, full day kindergarten local school districts who choose to expand kindergarten will be putting even more “burden on local taxpayers”.

For those that have already chosen to expand kindergarten programs, this bill is a step in the right direction but it does not go as far as it should. This bill will help the 70% of school districts that already offer full day kindergarten.

NEA-New Hampshire Recommends Kevin Cavanaugh for Senate District 16 Special Election

Members of the NEA-NH Executive Board with their recommended candidate for the District 16 Senate Special Election, Kevin Cavanaugh.

 

CONCORD – Today, after a unanimous Executive Board vote, NEA-New Hampshire, the state’s largest public sector union, announced their recommendation of working families advocate and community leader Kevin Cavanaugh for Senate District 16 in the upcoming special election.

“As a father who proudly sent all three of my kids to New Hampshire public schools and graduated from Manchester public school myself, I’m honored to earn the recommendation of NEA-NH. Its important to me that our kids get a top-notch education so they can reach their fullest potential,” said Kevin Cavanaugh. “Schools are the foundation of our community, which is why it’s critical that educators are supported and empowered to keep inspiring our children to think big.”

“We are excited to support Kevin Cavanaugh, because he knows that growing New Hampshire’s economy starts with having a public education that makes young families want to stay to ensure their kids can get a good education,” said NEA-NH President Megan Tuttle. “This race is particularly important to us because of our history with Scott McGilvray and we’re confident that Kevin will make kids a priority, just like Scott always did. Like Scott, Kevin will be a fresh face in the Senate, with new ideas, willing to work with everyone to move New Hampshire forward. ”

NEA-New Hampshire represents 17,000 Granite State educators, including over 550 members in Senate District 16, which includes the towns of Bow, Candia, Dunbarton, Hooksett and Wards 1, 2, and 12 in the city of Manchester.

A recommendation is the fullest and most complete level of support NEA-NH can give a candidate.


NEA-New Hampshire is the largest union of public employees in the state. Founded in 1854, the New Hampshire State Teachers Association became one of the “founding ten” state education associations that formed the National Education Association in 1857. Known today as NEA-NH, and comprised of more than 17,000 members, our mission to advocate for the children of New Hampshire and public school employees, and to promote lifelong learning, remains true after more than 150 years. Our members are public school employees in all stages of their careers, including classroom teachers and other certified professionals, staff and instructors at public higher education institutions, students preparing for a teaching career, education support personnel and those retired from the profession.

UNH Spends Almost $200K To Block Union Organizing Efforts

University reports close to $200,000.00 in payments to law firm to prevent employees from exercising legal right to organize.

CONCORD, April 12, 2017 – The University of New Hampshire has finally provided a partial response to Representative Cushing’s Right to Know request. Earlier this year, Rep. Cushing sent two Right to Know requests to the University seeking, among other things, the names of any outside vendors advising management on anti-union efforts, the amounts paid to these organizations, and copies of communications with these organizations.

In their partial response, the University reported spending $193,565.13 on legal fees and expenses with Jackson Lewis Law Firm from June 2016 to March 2017.

“I’m shocked to find that UNH has spent a couple hundred thousand dollars to hire outside help to fight university employees who simply want to exercise their legal right to collectively bargain,” said Representative Cushing.

“We can assume that there will be additional payments made to Jackson Lewis as the University continues to fight their employees’ efforts to organize,” stated Megan Tuttle, NEA-New Hampshire President. “Is this really the best use of the University’s funds?”

The University noted in their response that “this expense is not being paid from any of the following: state appropriation, tuition dollars or operating funds.”

“Regardless of where the money is coming from, at this point the University has chosen to spend close to $200,000.00 on things other than tuition reduction, campus improvements, or to help make the salaries and benefits of the dedicated OS and PAT staff more competitive,” continued Tuttle.

In addition to asking for information regarding management’s anti-organizing efforts, Rep. Cushing’s request also sought information regarding the University’s outsourcing plans.

“We are aware that the University has hired consultants to find ways to save money.  Far too often, these savings are balanced on the backs of OS and PAT employees,” said Tuttle.

The University declined to provide any information on these topics.

State Representative Cushing stated that he will be looking to take further action to determine the actual source of the funds used to pay Jackson Lewis, and to address the lack of disclosure with the rest of his request for public information.

“I don’t see union busting as a line item anywhere in their budget,” stated Cushing.

A copy of Rep. Cushing’s Right to Know request is available here and below.

RepCushing Right To Know

Right To Work Goes Down In The NH House, New Hampshire Labor Rejoices

To the great “disappointment” of Governor Sununu, SB 11, the so-called “Right to Work” for less bill, goes down in flames.  By a bi-partisan vote of 200 to 177 the members of the NH House voted to kill the bill.  “I am deeply disappointed today by the House’s failure to pass Right to Work,” stated Governor Chris Sununu.

“Today’s vote was a confirmation of what we determined in the House Labor Committee, where Democrats and Republicans worked together to recommend defeat of so-called ‘right to work,’” said Representative Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey), the Ranking Democrat on the House Labor Committee. “With a strong economy and the lowest unemployment rate in America, legislation that reduces wages and interferes with the employer/employee relationship is the last thing our state needs.  I am very pleased that the full House agreed with the bipartisan Labor Committee recommendation, and that we can finally put this issue behind us.”

“Today a bi-partisan majority confirmed that ‘Right to Work’ is still wrong for New Hampshire, and this vote should be the final nail in the coffin,” said NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett. “Across the Granite State, working people stood together against this corporate-backed legislation that would cripple our ability to speak up on job. We thank the legislators who let workers’ voices rise above special interests’.” 

AFT-NH, that represents 4,000 teachers, school support staff, city and town employees, police officers, library employees, and higher education faculty, was “extremely pleased” with Right to Work’s defeat.

“We are extremely pleased that the NH House defeated Right to Work by a 200-177 vote today,” said Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “The defeat of this bill was the result of cooperation across party lines and hard work by our members, fellow union brothers and sisters in the labor movement and community allies. The actions by the NH House today puts to bed this divisive legislation for at least another 2 years. We thank legislators who stood with working families.”

NEA-NH, the state’s largest public employee union, representing over 17,000 members, praised the vote.

“Educators’ working conditions are our child’s learning conditions,” said Megan Tuttle acting NEA-NH President. “By weakening the ability of educators to advocate for students, kids across New Hampshire stood to lose things like smaller class sizes, safe classrooms and drinking water, up-to-date resources, and expanded curriculum choices. Our ability to advocate for every public-school student was preserved today.”

“When out-of-state interests with pre-written legislation and lots of money try to set legislative priorities in New Hampshire, kids lose. Today’s vote prevented that from happening.”

“The 17,000 members of NEA-New Hampshire extend our thanks to those voting against SB11 today, especially those members who stood strong against the pressure applied by the majority leadership on this issue. Their resolve helped ensure that kids and educators across the state will continue to have a strong voice,” concluded Tuttle. 

Richard Gulla, President of the NH State Employees Association was “proud” of the legislators who stood with working families.

“Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted SB 11 Inexpedient to Legislate. We are proud of the legislators for standing with Granite State workers today and putting the so-called Right to Work bill behind us, where it belongs. The New Hampshire House recognized that there was no constituency supporting this legislation and proved out-of-state special interests have no place in our politics. It took courage to stand against the constant stream of pressure from outside funding – and Granite State families can now celebrate this accomplishment.”

“We are incredibly grateful to our elected officials for continuing to stand up for what is important. We look forward to working with Governor Sununu and the legislature to continue helping New Hampshire families,” Gulla added. 

Democrats also rejoiced as Sununu’s highest priority piece of legislation was defeated.

“New Hampshire proved once again that it’s a friend to workers’ rights. Despite Governor Sununu and NHGOP Chair Forrester’s brazen attempts, Republicans and Democrats in the State House stood together and made clear that this issue is above partisan politics,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckey. 

“Today’s defeat of the so-called Right to Work for Less legislation is a great victory for New Hampshire’s working families,” said Jeff Woodburn, NH Senate Minority Leader.  “Right to Work for Less makes it harder for people to earn a living, harder for people to make ends meet, and harder for people to support a family. I congratulate the bipartisan coalition in the House that recognized the damage it would have caused and came together to defeat this harmful legislation.”

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)

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