NH’s own Betsy DeVos, Edelblut is transforming NHDOE into a political weapon
December 20, 2017
When Governor Sununu appointed his former political rival Frank Edelblut as Education Commissioner, many in the state, from parents to teachers to the New Hampshire Board of Education, were left wondering what exactly Sununu’s first agency pick brought to the table.
Edelblut had homeschooled his children rather than sending them to any public school in the state, he had never been involved in the issue of education, and his views on education steered away from growing and empowering public schools. In his hearing, Edelblut said “I don’t need specific educational experience to lead the NH Department of Education.”
With that in mind, hundreds of concerned Granite Staters called the Executive Council to express their dissent, the New Hampshire Board of Education issued a letter of no confidence in Sununu’s pick of Frank Edelblut for the position and after Edelblut promised to simply be “the implementation guy,” the Executive Council approved the new Education Commissioner on a 3-2 party-line vote. Ever since, Edelblut has been systematically transforming the New Hampshire Department of Education into a political weapon.
Far from “implementation”
Today, a Concord Monitor column detailed the story of a New Hampshire Department of Education job applicant who withdrew her application after a disturbing meeting with Frank Edelblut. During the meeting, Edelblut imposed political litmus tests, asking her if she supported Common Core & school voucher bill SB 193. He also told the NHDOE applicant that her job would be to lobby politically for SB 193, even though political activity is prohibited in non-partisan agencies like the NH Department of Education.
This is not the first time Edelblut has tried to wield the New Hampshire Department of Education for political ends. In April, Edelblut inappropriately asked Senator John Reagan to propose legislation that would give him increased, far-reaching power to transform the NHDOE, from budgetary & personnel re-assignment to redefining the roles at the agency. A Senate committee quickly shot down Edelblut’s power grab.
That same month, Edelblut proposed a review of Next Generation Science Standards after criticizing the standards for mentioning climate change too much. The Board of Education rejected Edelblut’s proposal.
Misuse of position
Edelblut’s inappropriate political behavior stretches far beyond his formal attempts to reorganize the department in his image. The Valley News reported that Edelblut anonymously donated to the Croydon Defense Fund, which funded a lawsuit against the department he runs. He then misused his position to help the husband of a Croydon School Board member find a job in his Department of Education.
Since assuming the position in February, Edelblut has scheduled speaking appearances at the Mount Washington Valley Republicans, the Hancock Republicans, and the New Boston Republicans “Right of Center” meeting as well as attending the 603 Alliance event headlined by Steve Bannon. Just yesterday, Edelblut used his official government Twitter account to launch a political attack against Executive Councilor Chris Pappas.