DOE Commissioner / News

Former Superintendent: Edelblut’s lack of experience is “troubling”

Wayne F. Gersen, a former Hanover School Superintendent and education consultant, published his letter to the Executive Council regarding the nomination of former State Representative Frank Edelblut. Here’s the letter:

Dear Executive Council Members,

I am writing to express by unequivocal opposition to the appointment of Frank Edelblut as Commissioner of Education. As a former NH Public School Superintendent of 11 years (SAU 16 from 1983-87; SAU 70 from 2004-2011), a Superintendent with 18 additional years of experience in other States, and one who has worked as a consultant for the past six years in Vermont and New Hampshire, I have a great understanding of and great appreciation for the work performed by a chief school officer in a state. I also know that 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. It is evident from what I have read about Mr. Edelblut that he possesses no knowledge of the workings of public schools. Mr. Edelblut asserts that his skills as a private businessman are transferable to overseeing a complex public agency. The experience of other businessmen with no public sector experience who take over schools shows otherwise. Mr. Edelblut also asserts that his experience as a CEO provides him with an understanding of “what kids need to be successful”. While he may know what a HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE needs to be successful IN HIS BUSINESS, I do not believe that gives him any sense of what a Kindergartner needs to be successful in Colebrook, Concord, or Contoocook.

Most troubling to me is his lack of experience in dealing with public schools as a parent. If Mr. Edelblut was a successful businessman who ALSO served on his local school board, or who attended his child’s PTA meetings or back to school nights, or who had any children who attended public school I might be open to an assertion that he has some sense of the challenges of public schools. The fact that he chose to homeschool his children instead of working with his local school board or local principal or his child’s teacher experience speaks volumes about his commitment to the cause of improving schools. Parents who are engaged in public education soon gain an appreciation for the hard work required to educate all children and find ways to improve their local schools through teamwork.

To offer another perspective on Mr. Sununu’s appointment, I’ve pasted a copy of the Lebanon Valley News editorial from Saturday, January 21 below. It eloquently expresses their concerns about Mr. Edelblut’s qualifications.

In closing I want to make certain that each of you has an appreciation for the excellent leadership Dr. Virginia Barry provided New Hampshire schools over her tenure as State Superintendent. She was an excellent communicator, a visionary leader who was willing to push back for as long and as hard as she could against the testing regimen that dominated the agenda of previous Presidents, and she developed imaginative and creative ways to personalize learning so that all children had a positive experience in school. It saddens and disappoints me to think that her work and the work of those in the understaffed State Department of Education who helped realize her vision will be pushed aside.

Thank you for giving careful consideration to the appointment of Mr. Edelblut. I urge you to reject his appointment and insist on the appointment of someone who can build on the foundation Dr. Barry and her staff have put in place.

Wayne Gersen
Etna, NH 03750

Read the full letter here.

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