Education Commissioner blasted for injecting culture wars into New Hampshire schools

The presidents of New Hampshire’s largest teachers unions (Megan Tuttle, left. Deb Howes, right) had scathing feedback for embattled New Hampshire education commissioner Frank Edelblut this week after his response to a bombshell NHPR report.

By Colin Booth

April 26, 2024

The presidents of New Hampshire’s largest teachers unions had scathing feedback for embattled New Hampshire education commissioner Frank Edelblut this week after his response to a bombshell NHPR report that documented his efforts to steer the department toward political culture war fights.

Speaking at a NH Biden-Harris campaign event launching their educators for Biden coalition, the presidents of AFT-NH and NEA-NH — the largest unions representing teachers and school staff in the state — said a recent report by NHPR which detailed Edelblut’s attempts to ban books in New Hampshire classrooms and target individual teachers based on perceived political ideology, was fully accurate.

They also said that a response by commissioner Edelblut titled “Thank God someone is looking out for the children” posted to the NH Department of Education website was deeply inappropriate.

That response has garnered its own critical coverage in the Boston Globe this week.

“I think the NPR piece was very well researched and very on the money. And I think his self published rebuttal on the state website — which is not his personal website — was out of line and full of innuendo at the expense of our members. And it was disgusting,” said Deb Howes, President of AFT-NH.

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“He does not listen to the parents who are demanding that those schools be open and welcoming for all students, that they are inclusive for all students and they be well funded, and that they have strong academic standards and that they teach inclusive curriculums and honest curriculums. So those parents who want that as community members who are investing their taxpayer money in those schools are not getting his ear.”

Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH was similarly severe on Edelblut’s leadership of the department, saying the report was a long time coming and that change in the department was needed.

“Some of the stories this week are the culmination of seven years of trying to really just dismantle public education in New Hampshire … The commissioner is trying to say that he’s not out there trying to dismantle public education, but that has been what he’s been doing for the past seven years. And if we don’t get other people in office this November, it’s going to continue,” said Tuttle.

The NHPR report is a new trove of evidence for something many education policy experts in the state have been saying for years – that the education commissioner, who is a Sununu political appointee with no education experience who has opted to homeschool all seven of his own children – has waged a war on public schools in the state.He has famously worked with Republican extremists groups like Moms For Liberty and the Free State Project and took painstaking efforts last year to push materials from the conservative group PragerU into New Hampshire schools despite overwhelming public opposition.

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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