Seacoast papers: “NH education chief must be kept in check”


A Seacoast newspapers editorial today frames its concern about Education Commissioner Edelblut and changes in the State Board of Education this way:

Sununu has deservedly been winning points with public education advocates across the state and grabbing headlines with his push to fund full-day kindergarten. However, we think Edelblut and Sununu’s actions and words on two specific topics merit scrutiny no matter what your view.

The first topic is the teaching of science. The second is Senate Bill 193, which would create a school voucher system so parents could use public money to fund private school, some religious schools and home school. These views should give everyone pause in granting Edelblut the expanded power he is seeking….

The paper then discusses Commissioner Edelblut’s views on climate change and the science standards:

In an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio that aired this week, Edelblut continued to avoid directly answering questions about whether he supports teaching creationism. In the same interview, Edelblut walked a fine line on the topic of climate science, but he gave a little more insight on his views. He cited a conservative education think tank study and raised concerns about the state’s current science education standards compared to the state’s former standards.

“So ‘climate change’ appeared in our old standard one time,” Edelblut told NHPR. “In the current standard, it appears 17 times. If you look at our old standard, the term ‘human impact’ appears one time, and it now appears 16 times in our current standard. And so what we want to do is we want to make sure that we’re providing our students with a holistic view of science.”

This statement is sure to sound alarms for anyone who supports teaching mainstream climate science where it is accepted and proven humans have affected the climate. Edelblut has said he doesn’t create curriculum as education commissioner, but he certainly can have an influence on the curriculum students access.

The editorial issues a caution about the big changes in education:

Edelblut…has pushed for the vouchers [SB 193] openly, and some parents applaud him for it, especially those who feel public schools don’t meet the needs of their kids….

Edelblut was openly critical of the New Hampshire Board of Education for opposing SB 193, and Sununu almost immediately announced he will not re-nominate Tom Raffio, the chairman of the board. Sununu reportedly said a “fresh perspective” is needed. Raffio is set to be replaced by Drew Cline, a former editorial writer at the Union Leader and a current independent consultant.

…The shakeup of the board could be a troubling sign, along with Edelblut’s efforts to reorganize his department in a way that would give him much more power. Thanks to state Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, that plan will go to a public hearing, rather than sail through as part of an unrelated bill….

…[I]t appears [Edelblut] and Sununu may be working to silence or change some of the voices they don’t like and make changes before all the stakeholders have a chance to weigh in. This would give a louder voice on education to people who have not worked in the field than to people who have spent their careers working to meet the needs of all kids in school.

And closes with a call to action:

Regardless of whether you agree with the direction Edelblut and Sununu are going, everyone should support educators having a loud voice in the debate. Speak up now. The action in the Legislature is moving fast.

Read the whole piece here.