The Concord Monitor published an editorial about Mr. Edelblut’s nomination and his hearing last week. Here’s the full text:
Frank Edelblut, the governor’s choice to lead the state’s Department of Education, faced tough questions during an Executive Council hearing on Tuesday – from some members anyway – and that’s just as it should be. There are several red flags.
Edelblut may consider himself an “implementation guy,” but we can’t help wondering why Gov. Chris Sununu would choose somebody so ideologically extreme for what is supposed to be a nonpartisan position, especially when the state needs somebody in that office who knows how to navigate the entire education landscape. As troubling as Edelblut’s lack of experience is – and it’s very troubling considering how complex the position is – we are also concerned about his rigid beliefs, many of which appear to be well outside of the mainstream. All five councilors should have grilled Edelblut publicly during the hearing, but only two of them did.
Chris Pappas of District 4 asked the former Republican House member and gubernatorial candidate whether he could truly serve as a nonpartisan commissioner. Edelblut declined to say whether he would stay away from Republican Party functions or even refrain from endorsing candidates.
Pappas also asked Edelblut why he testified against a ban on “conversion therapy,” which falsely – and dangerously – claims to change a person’s sexual orientation. Edelblut said, unconvincingly, that he wasn’t testifying one way or the other on conversion therapy but was merely questioning the studies referenced by the bill’s sponsors. He said, “I believe that I may have referred to the underlying support for that position as being unsubstantiated.” The studies cited in the bill were conducted by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs, the National Association of Social Workers and several other well-respected organizations. We’re not sure how many more credible studies he would need to see before acknowledging that conversion therapy is garbage.
Andru Volinsky of District 2, a first-term councilor from Concord, focused in part on Edelblut’s position as a board member of Patrick Henry College in Virginia, which in its “statement of faith” includes bullet points such as: “Satan exists as a personal, malevolent being who acts as tempter and accuser, for whom Hell, the place of eternal punishment, was prepared, where all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity,” and “The Bible in its entirety (all 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) is the inspired Word of God, inerrant in its original autographs, and the only infallible and sufficient authority for faith and Christian living.”
Volinsky pressed Edelblut about whether he would require “creationism to be taught alongside evolution,” but Edelblut deflected, saying “I would not have jurisdiction.” While he may not have jurisdiction, it’s not a very good look for New Hampshire to have a creationist heading up the Department of Education.
Pappas and Volinsky both stressed the need for transparency in government when they met with the Monitor’s editorial board in October. On Tuesday, they held up their end of the bargain. In asking Edelblut tough questions in public, rather than in private as fellow councilor David Wheeler said he wished they had done, they have provided a great service to everybody who has a stake in the future of New Hampshire’s schools.
Read the full editorial here.
Reaching Higher NH is a nonpartisan source for information related to education policy in New Hampshire. We will not take a position on the nomination of former State Rep Frank Edelblut. However, we will publish media coverage of his nomination, provided it is from a local and reputable news source or written by a current or former educator or school administrator.