CONCORD, NH — Parents, educators, journalists, activists and political leaders responded with outrage over the last week following the unprecedented attack on New Hampshire teachers by our own Education Commissioner, Frank Edelblut.
In a letter published by several statewide news outlets, Commissioner Edelblut made repeated attacks against New Hampshire teachers and educators and engaged in bigoted, anti-transgender, anti-Black, and homophobic rhetoric.
In addition to a torrent of responses in the press, Edelblut’s attack on teachers elicited letters from both Democratic leadership in the House and Senate as well as Democratic members of the House and Senate Education committees to declare their total loss of confidence in the Commissioner.
Teachers, school administrators, and teachers’ unions slammed the op-ed as part of what they say is an effort by Edelblut to sow distrust in public education and embolden parents who oppose schools’ efforts to support marginalized students.
Some of the complaints described by Edelblut relate to questionnaires about students’ preferred names and pronouns, as well as elementary and middle school curriculum related to sex and sexual orientation.
One screenshot includes an introductory slide show from an art teacher who uses they/them pronouns and says they believe Black Lives Matter and support LGBT students.
Civil rights advocates, teachers unions, and Democrats have also blasted the opinion piece, labeling it “manufactured outrage” and “shameful.”
“Gender identity nondiscrimination has been the law in New Hampshire, and it specifically extends to public schools,” said Palana Hunt-Hawkins, an advocate with Trans Action New Hampshire. “So … to me, someone who has a nonbinary gender identity, for example, isn’t debatable. You know, it’s just who that person is.”
“Just thinking about him as the education commissioner, it was just kind of incredible to see him throw educators under the bus and not stand strong behind them,” she added.
Seacoast Online: In column, Commissioner Edelblut shows his true, ugly colors
It's one thing for people to simply say things like "New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is a partisan hack, longing for a theocracy." But it's quite another for him to announce it himself, as he did in his recent column.
In writing, for example, about gender identification, Edelblut refers to acknowledging that some people do not identify as male or female as "undermining the value system of many families." This is where Edelblut gives away his game. Gender identity is a fact (a "fact of life," if you will), not a political issue subject to some undefined "value system."
Would Commissioner Edelblut oppose teaching that "slavery was a bad thing" because some people in New Hampshire think that slavery wasn't all that bad, i.e. it might "undermine the value system of many families"? What about the roundness of the Earth? Nice try, commissioner, but your true colors are showing.
Concord Monitor: Opinion: Education’s role in America today
Edelblut, who has home-schooled his seven children, has no personal or professional education credentials. He is not only a supporter of New Hampshire’s “divisive concepts” law which forbids teaching about systemic racism in our public schools and state agencies, but who has recently written that some “activist educators” are intentionally trying to manipulate students when they teach about American history, racism, LGBTQIA+ peoples, gender diversity, pronouns, and social justice movement
Alarmingly, Edelblut wrote that teachers shouldn’t be teaching anything that conflicts with the family values of students in the classroom.
It's not education's role to cater to such ignorance or prejudice, just as it's not America's role to stand by and permit the intellectual looting of our libraries and the banning of books by Toni Morrison, Yaa Gyasi, Ibram X. Kendi, Maia Kobabe, Angie Thomas, and others.
Concord Monitor: Opinion: Change is hard, disruption is easy
Over the past several weeks, Commissioner Edelblut has issued editorials criticizing educators who he claims do not want to change, while at the same time complaining about those who seek to institute change. The problem is not with educators, it’s a lack of leadership provided by the Department of Education.
Edelblut is willing to experiment on our children and educators using approaches with unproven or even negative impacts such as education freedom accounts, charter conversion schools, and homeschool learning pods; approaches most evident in lagging states such as Arizona (ranked 40th), Louisiana (48th) and South Carolina (43rd).
Rather than building upon the strong foundation he was given, Commissioner Edelblut has done everything he can to dismantle and undermine it. His focus on loyalty oaths, restrictions on teaching history, and general antipathy toward educators shows his true intent is not to improve our public education system but to simply disrupt it.
Concord Monitor: Stop the attacks on teachers
New Hampshire public school teachers have dealt with the pandemic with grace and commitment to their students. They have dealt with anti-public school attacks by lawmakers and school board members by fighting back with the truth. And now they have to counter outrageous accusations by their own boss, Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, about supposed efforts by some ‘activist teachers’ to manipulate students about divisive concepts, such as gender diversity, pronouns, racial justice and socialism.
Edelblut claims parents are citing alleged instances of instructional materials that conflict with their values on social media platforms like TikTok. Has Edelblut actually gone into classrooms to verify that these are real?
This is the latest of Edelblut’s unfettered and constant attacks on public school teachers, people whom the public trust and admire. As president of AFT-NH, I believe the education commissioner’s job is to support the mission and work of our public schools and their teachers and speak the truth about what they do to educate and support our students. As is exceedingly obvious, he is in the wrong job.
Concord Monitor: ‘Nefarious’ teachers
Others have pointed out how absurd it is that our “leader” of public education is actively trying to destroy it. They have eloquently defended the institution.
Any number of beginning teachers who had to work an extra job so they could afford to teach and also pay bills These are the nefarious people that I’ve worked with over the years.
Mr. Edelblut, you are a danger to our public school system.