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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.”

DeVos And Edelblut Nearly Identical Ideologs’, Both Nominated To Head Education Departments

Photograph: Getty Images CC

The New Hampshire Executive Council could learn something from our US Senators when it comes to confirming a nominee to head the Department of Education.

Right now the Republicans in Washington D.C are scrambling to try to get their unfit, unqualified Secretary of Education confirmed. Betsy DeVos has no experience as an educator and has spent millions pushing religious charter schools to the Michigan Legislature.

Both of New Hampshire’s Senators have been outspoken in their opposition to Betsy DeVos.

“Throughout her confirmation process, Ms. DeVos has demonstrated a complete lack of experience in, knowledge of and support for public education. Instead, it is clear that she would pursue policies that would undermine public schools, in my home state of New Hampshire and across our nation,” wrote Senator Maggie Hassan in a New York Times Op-Ed.

Last week, after DeVos got roasted during a particularly grueling nomination hearing, Senator Jeanne Shaheen announced that she would oppose the nomination.

“As a parent, a former public school teacher, a governor and a senator, I’ve always cared deeply about providing equal opportunity for our children,” said Shaheen. “I was dismayed by many of Ms. DeVos’s answers during her confirmation hearing. At a very minimum, our next Secretary of Education should be able to commit to enforcing current law that protects and provides opportunities to students with disabilities. Her answer to Senator Hassan’s questioning on this subject was entirely unacceptable.

Throughout her confirmation hearing, she did not express a real commitment to our nation’s public schools which are the best opportunity for kids from all walks of life to get the education they deserve. I cannot in good conscience support her nomination and will also strongly urge my colleagues to oppose her nomination.”

Both of New Hampshire’s U.S. Senators are adamantly opposed to putting an unfit, unqualified person in charge of the Department of Education.   So why is the New Hampshire Executive Council willing to put a completely unfit, unqualified person in charge of the Department of Education in New Hampshire?

The parallels between Former State Rep Frank Edelblut and Betsy DeVos are uncanny.

Edelblut has no experience as an educator and choose to home-school his seven children. He has never served on a local school board or sat on a PTA board. Why would someone, who did not even entrust his own children to the public school system, be the “best qualified” person to run the state’s Department of Education?

Like DeVos, Edelblut has been an outspoken advocate for “school choice” that would allow taxpayer money to be taken from our public schools and given to for-profit religious schools. The school choice voucher law was ruled unconstitutional by the NH State Supreme Court and is currently being repealed by the NH House.

When asked by reporters from the Union Leader, Edelblut dodged the question over whether he would force schools to teach creationism alongside evolution.

“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,” stated Edelblut.

During his confirmation hearing Edelblut once again refused to answer the question over teaching creationism claiming the Commissioner of Education does “not have jurisdiction over that.”

Councilors Pappas and Volinsky took the confirmation hearing of Frank Edelblut as an opportunity to show how unfit and unqualified Edelblut is for Commissioner of Education. The Union Leader decried Volinsky’s “performance” during the confirmation hearing calling it “a high school production of A Few Good Men.” Others applauded him for taking his responsibility as an Executive Councilor seriously and not rubber-stamping the Governor’s nominations.

Just as Betsy DeVos is unfit and unqualified for Secretary of Education, Former State Rep Frank Edelblut is also unfit and unqualified for Commissioner of Education in New Hampshire.

Councilors Pappas and Volinsky have already stated they will oppose Edelblut’s nomination leaving the three Republican Executive Councilors left. Will they do what is best for the 180,000+ children currently in the public school system or will they just ignore the facts and rubber-stamp the Governor’s unfit unqualified nominee.

Contact your Executive Councilor today and tell them to put the children of New Hampshire first and oppose the nomination of Frank Edelblut.

The Union Leader Blasts Andru Volinsky While We Applaud Him For Standing Strong Against Edelblut

This morning, the Union Leader took aim at Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky for his actions during the confirmation hearing of Frank Edelblut for NH Commissioner of Education.

Embarrassing: Andru Volinsky off to a bad start:

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky must have thought he was back in the courtroom, or a high school production of “A Few Good Men.”

The Concord Democrat, best known as the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the Claremont Education Lawsuit, treated the council chambers like his personal stage on Tuesday during the public hearing on Frank Edelblut’s nomination to head the New Hampshire Department of Education.

Volinsky tried to make the case that Edelblut was unqualified for the post because he has never worked inside the education bureaucracy. His grandstanding drew the ire of his fellow councilors, as Volinsky threatened to take more than an hour.

I am sorry, but at what point did being elected to the Executive Council, by the people of New Hampshire, mean that you must rubber stamp all of the Governor’s appointments?

Councilor Volinsky showed everyone that he is not going to roll over while the Governor tries to repay his fellow Republican Gubernatorial contender with a position he is completely unqualified to hold.

Utilizing the skills he acquired as a courtroom lawyer, Volinsky shredded Edelblut for having no experience as an educator and no experience as a school administrator.  Edelblut tried to say that his experience home schooling his seven children has provided him the experience needed to be Commissioner of Education.  The two have no connection at all.  It’s like saying, “I taught myself how to fly and have no license but I am now qualified to run the pilot training program for American Airlines.”

Volinsky showed his true commitment to strengthening New Hampshire’s public schools, something he cares deeply about and has fought for as a litigator for many years.  As the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the landmark Claremont Decision, Volinsky fought to ensure that all schools received adequate funding from the State.

Last year, Volinsky won another case against the state over school funding. The state ruled that the ‘Cap On Adequacy Grants To Public Schools was unconstitutional and awarded Seacoast area schools nearly $12 million dollars as a result of the state’s failure to provide mandated funding. 

We applaud, Councilor Andru Volinsky for doing exactly what the people elected him to do and ensuring that the unfit and unqualified Frank Edelblut does not become Commissioner of Education.

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.” 

Math Teacher And Member Of The NH Young Democrats Implores Council To Reject Edelblut

Concord, N.H. – Following  today’s Executive Council hearing on Frank Edelblut’s nomination to be Education Commissioner, Granite State math teacher Nathan Manna issued the following statement:

“After hearing overwhelming testimony against Mr. Edelblut’s nomination, I implore the Executive Council  to vote against  Frank Edelblut’s nomination. As a school teacher and young Granite Stater hoping to raise my family here, I find it unacceptable that a man who has zero experience in education and didn’t even educate his children in public schools has been chosen to run our state’s public school system. Mr. Edelblut believes he can  magically come in from the outside and improve our students’ lives, I can tell you as a professional that he will not.

“What is even more disturbing were the statements from Edelblut today where  he expressed his opposition to full-day kindergarten citing the ‘risks’ for children, refused to oppose conversation therapy, refused to oppose gun free school zones, and called education a “product”, not a public good. It is too great a risk to our young students to have a Commissioner who has no idea what he’s talking about.

“Councilors, I encourage you to go to teachers and students and ask them the ways in which we can improve our schools. Solutions will come from them, not from Frank Edelblut.”

AFT-NH Testifies Against Frank Edelblut For Commissioner Of Education

Testimony in Opposition to Frank Edelblut Nomination as Commissioner of the State of New Hampshire Dept. of Education

Councilors,

Thank you for taking the time to hear my testimony and thank you for providing everyone here an opportunity to weigh in on this nomination.

As president of AFT-NH, I represent some 4000 education professionals, including teachers and para-educators. I mention those two groups because they form the largest portion of our membership and as education professionals they are required to be certified as competent to do their work and in many cases they must be highly qualified. Public education, filled with myriad of mandates and a maze of requirements and regulations, is a complex field. An individual charged with heading the NH Dept. of Education should be familiar with and have extensive experience in the educational arena. In fact, State statute (RSA 21-N:3) is quite clear: “The commissioner and deputy commissioner shall be qualified to hold their positions by reason of education and experience.” I am afraid that Mr. Edelblut, even with his success in business and his brief tenure in the NH House, does not reach this threshold of qualifications.

Mr. Edelblut has never served in any capacity in the public school systems of NH. He did not serve on the Education Committee in the NH House, nor has he ever served on a District School Board or even taken an active/visible interest in local educational issues, if election campaign media reports are to be believed. While personally educated in public schools, that is not sufficient to meet the statutory standard—otherwise, virtually everyone in this room would be qualified to serve as Commissioner. His post-secondary fields of endeavor were in business and in theology, not in any field related to education.

Choosing to home school his own children, he has had very little, if any, contact with local schools, whether public or even public charters, and one is left to wonder how he can carry out the statutory mandate to lead the Department in

  • Providing general supervision for elementary and secondary schools, teachers and administrators.
  • Providing a variety of educational services to schools and particular groups.
  • Providing vocational rehabilitation and social security disability determination services for persons with disabilities.

Our teachers and para-educators are required to be certified, and for good reason. The welfare of our children, the State’s most precious resource, is at stake. It seems foolish to entrust their welfare and the future of the State to an individual who is undeniably accomplished, but who has no record of accomplishment, nay, virtually no record at all, in the area of education. It is for these reasons, that on behalf of the members of AFT-NH, I ask that you vote to reject the nomination of Frank Edelblut as Commissioner of the NH Department of Education.

Thank you,

Douglas Ley
AFT-NH, President

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