Ed. Commissioner Supports Higher Standards, As Councilors Play Politics

September 2, 2017

Cornerstone Education Liaison Ann Marie Banfield responds to a recent commentary by Executive Councilors Andru Volinsky and Chris Pappas, published in several New Hampshire news outlets.

The recently-published criticism aimed at Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut by Executive Councilors Andru Volinsky and Chris Pappas made me wonder: are the Councilors bothered that Edelblut is working hard to improve public education in New Hampshire?

Volinsky and Pappas took a swing at Commissioner Edelblut for attending political functions. They ignored all of the good things he’s attempting to do to improve public education in New Hampshire.

Edelblut has heard from parents and teachers on the failures of Common Core. Parents have notified  the State Board of Education that they have withdrawn their children from public schools because of Common Core. Recently, one of those parents presented the Board with about 2000 signatures on a petition to get rid of Common Core in New Hampshire.

Parents now expect Commissioner Edelblut to work to improve academic standards. That’s exactly what he’s doing. It’s something that former Governor Hassan failed to do.

Volinsky and Pappas mentioned Edelblut’s long confirmation process. In all of their public questioning of Edelblut at the Executive Council prior to his confirmation as Commissioner, neither of these Councilors asked him about Common Core standards.  In their recently-published commentary, Volinsky and Pappas again failed to bring up Common Core and how Commissioner Edelblut is working to improve the academic standards. Their commentary appeared to be a political attack on the Commissioner rather than  an honest analysis of how well he’s working to improve public education in New Hampshire.  That’s a big failure on their part as Executive Councilors.

I expected those two Counselors to put partisanship aside when they voted on Edelblut’s confirmation, but that’s not what they did. I expected them to offer honest analysis when commenting on Edelblut’s performance as Commissioner, but again, that’s not what they did. Instead, they have chosen now to write a political hit piece on a Commissioner who is finally listening to the thousands of parents who are fed up with federal education reform in New Hampshire.

Former Education Commissioner Virginia Barry was invited to participate in debates about Common Core when she served in the Hassan administration.  She turned down those invitations. She wouldn’t face the hard questions from parents who were frustrated and angry about the poor quality of education their children were receiving. Barry did meet with local Superintendents in closed-door meetings where no notes were taken for the public to review.  Where were Volinsky and Pappas when parents were upset about that practice?

If they can’t bring themselves to be honest with the public and to highlight Edelblut’s efforts to improve the academic standards for our local schools, that reflects their partisanship. If their only problem is that he’s attending political gatherings, I can’t imagine that parents who’ve gone before the Board of Education in tears over Common Core will be that upset.

Public education in New Hampshire will be better for all children when the academic standards are improved.  Edelblut is working hard to make that happen. Volinsky and Pappas should be standing behind him and supporting him every step of the way.  Instead, they are taking political shots at the Commissioner, and they are failing to provide the public with important information on how he’s working to improve academic standards for kids who attend public schools.