New Hampshire’s Senate Democrats filed legislation to limit the activities of the Commissioner of Education. SB466 says; “during their term of appointment, a commissioner may not hold or campaign for elective office, serve as the officer of a political party or political committee, use his or her name in support of or in opposition to a candidate, participate in or contribute to political campaigns or act as a lobbyist.” SB466 is sponsored by Senators: Woodburn, Dist 1; Cavanaugh, Dist 16; Feltes, Dist 15; Fuller Clark, Dist 21; SHennessey, Dist 5; Kahn, Dist 10; Lasky, Dist 13; Soucy, Dist 18 and; Watters, Dist 4.
SB466 is directed at Commissioner Frank Edelblut, who has been a target of Executive Councilors Andru Volinsky and Chris Pappas since he was appointed. It was Andru Volinsky who went after Commissioner Edelblut’s religious beliefs during the hearing to appoint him as Commissioner of Education.
In this article by Brietbart, Volinsky’s line of questioning appeared to be more of an “inquisition” rather than a hearing to determine if the Commissioner could carry out his duties. It should be noted that in his line of questioning, Councilor Volinsky never asked Commissioner Edelblut about his views on the most important issue in public education today– Common Core. From the beginning, Councilors Pappas and Volinsky made Commissioner Edelblut a controversial figure, not based on what he would do for public education, but for partisan reasons. Had they really cared about public education, they would have addressed the most important issue facing public schools today.
Commissioner Edelblut has challenged the education establishment in New Hampshire. He was appointed by Governor Chris Sununu with the task of reviewing and replacing Common Core. Governor Sununu was elected by the voters in New Hampshire on the campaign promise to “scrap Common Core.” By appointing Commissioner Edelblut, the job is getting done.
Commissioner Edelblut has run into resistance by some of the current State Board of Education members who were left over from the Hassan administration. They are still committed to the dumbed down Common Core Standards that plague New Hampshire’s schools.
Elevating the standards and testing would go a long way to improving our public schools in New Hampshire, but that means taking on the education establishment. This isn’t an easy task given the political nature, and we see it in the constant attacks on Commissioner Edelblut.
The latest attack comes in the form of legislation. SB466 seeks to tie the hands of Commissioner Edelblut. Is this another partisan attack on the Commissioner? SB466 for instance, says that the Commissioner is prohibited from acting as “a lobbyist.” However, during former Commissioner Barry’s tenure, she lobbied against parents who supported legislation to rid their public schools of Common Core.
Here is a video of the lobbying by former Commissioner Barry. In her public testimony, she disparages parents who were fighting to improve their local public schools. (1:10) The room was full of parents who had come to Concord to share their stories of how Common Core was dumbing down their schools. Former Commissioner Barry not only ignored their testimony, she publicly shamed them for actively engaging the political system.
Where were the sponsors of SB466 after this public shaming of parents by our former Commissioner of Education?
If limiting lobbying efforts by a Commissioner of Education is important, then why wasn’t it important during the last administration?
Is this another attempt to stop Commissioner Edelblut from doing the people’s work in Concord?
The voters of New Hampshire spoke. Parents are fed up with the dumbing down of their local public school. They want to see someone get in there and fix the mess that former Commissioner Barry facilitated during her tenure. This partisan attack on Commissioner Edelblut is an attempt to further diminish the voice of parents throughout New Hampshire who want better public schools for their children. Parents need to take note of the Sponsors of SB466 and the constant attack by Executive Councilors Pappas and Volinsky. None of these partisan political figures are fighting for improving public education for your children. Remember that the next time they are up for re-election.
Ann Marie Banfield currently volunteers as the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire. She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can contact her at: [email protected]