Governor Chris Sununu is reportedly set to tap former one-term State Representative Frank Edelblut as New Hampshire Commissioner of Education. Best known for his divisive statements in the legislature and during his brief run for the Republican nomination for governor last year, Edelblut is one of New Hampshire’s most extreme opponents of a strong public education system.
“Once again following Donald Trump’s playbook, Chris Sununu has decided to put into power an individual bent on undermining our public schools in any way he can,” said NHDP Press Secretary Zach McNamara. “As if this weren’t enough, Mr. Edelblut has absolutely no professional experience in public education and appears determined to force his far-right social views into our classrooms.”
“It’s shocking and dismaying that Chris Sununu, who during the campaign promised to support funding for full-day kindergarten, is now set to tap someone who opposes this crucial initiative to lead our Education Commission,” McNamara added.
“Just as AFT on the national level has expressed strong opposition to the nomination of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, we are gravely concerned about a Commissioner of Education who, when running for governor, supported further diverting much needed funding and resources from our public schools,” said AFT-NH President Douglas Ley. “Our teachers and school district employees are trained professionals who have dedicated a lifetime to serving NH students. There is no evidence based on Mr. Edelblut’s public record that he either has the experience in education or public service on the local level that demonstrates the requisite knowledge and understanding to lead NH schools and serve more than 180,000 students, our State’s most precious resource.”
Megan Tuttle, Vice-president NEA-New Hampshire released the following statement:
“We all-parents, educators, officials, community leaders-share the responsibility for the success of students. We must all ask ourselves what we can do in our respective roles to make our schools better for kids and help to ensure their success. For educators, that means reaching and motivating every student. For parents, that means instilling values of respect, responsibility and a love of learning. And for elected and appointed officials, it means providing students and teachers with the tools and resources they need to help all students succeed-regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make.
If we’re serious about every child’s future, let’s get serious about doing what works. The research is clear about what works best for kids: learning opportunities that begin by age 4, safe schools, classes small enough for one on one attention, qualified and caring teachers, and community support services like nutrition and health care for children who need it. Well-resourced and cared for public schools are our best bet for setting every kid in New Hampshire off toward a great future.
We hope that the new Commissioner moves beyond any past statements, positions and rhetoric to support what works best in education, and protect the rights and dignity of every student and educator in the Granit State.”
See below for some of Frank Edelblut’s greatest hits on public education:
Frank Edelblut actively opposes funding full-day kindergarten in public schools.
“He doesn’t support increasing state adequacy aid for the districts that implement full-day kindergarten programs” – Valley News, 8/17/2016
Edelblut has never worked professionally in education in any capacity (not even local school board). His only experience in education has been homeschooling his seven children. – Concord Monitor, 8/30/2016
Edelblut’s conservative views on social issues – like defending conversion therapy on gay minors and trying to outlaw some forms of birth control – could threaten what our students learn in the classroom. – NHPR, 9/8/2016 and NHRTL endorsement, 2016
Edelblut wants to amend the NH Constitution to weaken the state’s obligation to fund schools.
“He supports a constitutional amendment to ensure the Legislature and governor have more control over public education policy, from the way the state fulfills its obligation to school funding to local control.” – Union Leader, 8/15/2016
Edelblut would succeed Dr. Virginia Barry and Lyonel Tracy as Education Commissioner, both of whom had extensive professional experience in education. Also at issue is state law concerning the Department of Education, which states that “The commissioner and deputy commissioner shall be qualified to hold their positions by reason of education and experience.” (Section 21-N:3).
“No matter how you spin it, Mr. Edelblut is a completely inappropriate choice for this role,” McNamara concluded.