Concord Monitor: State board, Education Commissioner clash on science standards

The Concord Monitor ran a thorough piece on the April 6 State Board of Education discussion of commissioner Edelblut’s proposal to review the science standards just adopted by the board last November:

When New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut was appointed to his post in January, the Republican politician assured critics that whatever his personal beliefs, he would consider himself “the implementation guy” for an agenda largely dictated by others.

In response to a question by Democratic Executive Councilor Andru Volinksy regarding whether he would object to local schools teaching creationism in their science curriculum, Edelblut called his point of view “irrelevant.”

“Whether or not I would have concern is irrelevant. I would not have jurisdiction,” Edelblut said.

And at a State Board of Education meeting Thursday, the new commissioner was sharply reminded of his circumscribed role when the State Board of Education unanimously rejected his proposal to reconsider the state’s science standards.

“Why on Earth are we doing science?” board member Cindy Chagnon asked Department of Education staff members once she saw that science standards had been scheduled for review this summer, along with math and English language arts.

According to the paper, when the commissioner said, “…those (science standards) have been evaluated by a third-party reviewer and rated as a ‘C’ standard,” Ms. Chagnon responded, “This would create chaos. This would create extra money spent. This would be ridiculous.”

Bill Duncan, another board member, said the board had looked at Fordham’s critique when mulling the standards but they weren’t convinced.

“Fordham’s view of the standards is from 1950 science teaching. This is not the criterion for New Hampshire,” he said.

Duncan said the board initiating a new review was “out of the question” and suggested a vote on a motion making intentions clear to leave the standards alone for the time being.


“I’ve never been more certain of anything that we’ve done,” said Gary Groleau, another board member. “To send the message that we’re backing up, or not fulfilling that responsibility that everybody understands is more than problematic.”

The board ultimately voted unanimously not to review science standards until 2022.