Edelblut, Like DeVos, Gets Appointment as Chief School Officer Despite Inexperience, Potential Conflicts of Interest
Unsurprisingly, former NH GOP State House Representative and gubernatorial candidate Frank Edelblut was appointed to a four year term of office by a partisan 3-2 vote by the Executive Council, the body that endorses gubernatorial appointments to key offices in the state. Today’s Valley Newsarticle by Rob Wolfe offers some background on the hearing for Mr. Edelblut’s appointment, which featured a picture of a room crowded with protesters, one of who carried a sign reading: “WHO WANTS A PILOT WHO NEVER HAS FLOWN?”, a reference to the fact that Mr. Edelblut has never served in public education in any capacity. Compounding this lack of service in public education is the fact that he chose to homeschool all seven of his children and he chose to make an undisclosed donation to a fund to support a school district seeking to use public funds to send a child to a private Montessori School. That lack of disclosure, described in an earlier blog post, led to some pointed questioning from Andru Volinski, a Democrat Executive Councilor:
During the panel’s Wednesday morning meeting, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky, D-Concord, expressed concern that Edelblut’s hitherto anonymous gift, which likely was made before he was appointed commissioner, represented a conflict of interest.
“I don’t have any quarrel with his contribution,” Volinsky said. “I have some concern that when I asked him about any potential conflicts of interest he did not think to disclose this.”
Edelblut last week told Volinsky that he had donated $1,000 to the Croydon School Board’s legal defense of a lawsuit brought by state officials over the board’s payments of public money to private schools.
The disclosure came after the Valley News reported that Croydon rejected a request to reveal unnamed donors to the $23,000 fund and that Edelblut for two weeks declined to answer questions about his role.
As noted in the earlier post, Mr. Edelblut and Betsy DeVos are like peas in a pod: they both lack experience and both advocate that public funds should be used to whatever purpose parents deem to be in the best interest of their child, be it public school, an on-line for profit school with limited success rates, a parochial school, or— presumably, an Islamic fundamentalist school. Mr. Volinky’s argument, like that of his counterparts in the US Congress, fell on deaf ears.
Councilor Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, said he trusted Edelblut’s integrity and warned the group not to “jump to conclusions.”
“I do not believe that he would go back on his word,” Prescott said, referring to Edelblut’s promises to act as a mere implementer of policy.
With that, the council voted along party lines, 3-2, to confirm Edelblut for a four-year term.
And so the dismantling of public education can proceed apace in New Hampshire unless more voices like Mr. Volinsky’s are raised in protest.
“It should not have required an express request from an executive councilor to disclose that,” Volinsky said.
Volinsky also said he was concerned that, contrary to statements Edelblut had made during confirmation hearings in January, the new commissioner was seeking to further his own “agenda” rather than implement policy created by others.