ICYMI: NHPR: While PragerU sought state approval, Education Commissioner provided support behind the
In case you missed it, New Hampshire Public Radio recently published an article exposing the close ties between New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and far-right and non-accredited political organization, PragerU.
Earlier this year, Edelblut’s actions triggered an uproar among New Hampshire parents as he tried to rush through a vote on allowing content from PragerU — a far-right, unaccredited edutainment website — to be a part of New Hampshire high school graduation requirements. Eventually the New Hampshire Board of Education —which is stacked with far-right political appointees — voted to allow PragerU in New Hampshire schools over the objections of thousands of New Hampshire residents who opposed the move.
This new reporting shows that while PragerU was seeking state approval, Edelblut was actively engaged in collaborations with the organization, even speaking to PragerU donors at a private meeting and receiving lodging paid for by PragerU.
Read key excerpts here:
Edelblut’s collaborations with PragerU, which have not previously been reported, took place while PragerU was seeking state approval to offer an online course to New Hampshire students to fulfill a new financial literacy requirement.
it is unusual for the head of a state agency in New Hampshire to collaborate in the way Edelblut has with PragerU, including speaking to donors of a group actively seeking approval to operate in the state — and that has levied such pointed critiques against public schools as PragerU has.
According to public records obtained by NHPR, as the application was pending, Edelblut spoke to PragerU donors at an event in California, received lodging paid for by PragerU, and agreed to record interviews for PragerU’s marketing campaign.
In late August, Edelblut traveled to Los Angeles to attend the virtual town hall in-person, hosted by PragerU’s CEO Marissa Streit
A spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office said it received an expense reimbursement report from Edelblut regarding his trip on Friday, several days after NHPR began inquiring about the trip.
Though PragerU is not receiving money from New Hampshire for its financial literacy course, it is using news of its approval to expand its presence elsewhere. On the day that the New Hampshire state board approved PragerU, PragerU posted an interview between Edelblut and Streit, PragerU’s CEO, next to a link to a petition to allow PragerU in schools across America.
In his nearly seven years as state education commissioner, Edelblut has aligned himself with conservative and libertarian leaning activist groups on several occasions. In 2021, he was criticized for speaking at a forum hosted by the Government Integrity Project, a group that pushed to overturn school mask mandates and encouraged debunked claims of election fraud.