Newly installed New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s nominee for the post of Commissioner of Education is being subjected to what some in the state are calling an “inquisition” and a “bigoted witch hunt” at the hands of a Democrat member of the state’s Executive Council.
At a packed public hearing of the Council Tuesday night in Concord, Republican Frank Edelblut was subjected to what education liaison Ann Marie Banfield of Cornerstone says was nothing less than an “inquisition” by Democrat councilor Andru Volinsky, an attorney.
Banfield provided video of the Executive Council meeting to Breitbart News, showing Volinsky grilling Edelblut over his religious beliefs and the fact that he sat on the board of a Christian college.
Edelblut, who served as a state representative and was a candidate for governor in 2016, has been a vocal critic of the Common Core State Standards, the Smarter Balanced Common Core-aligned tests, and the Obama administration’s “guidance” on transgender bathrooms in schools.
During his campaign for governor, he came in a close second to Sununu, who maintained only an 800-vote lead over Edelblut in the end.
According to the Concord Monitor, Edelblut is a businessman from Wilton who states his business background will help in updating the state’s public education system. A parent who has homeschooled his seven children, Edelblut supports the creation of academic standards at the local level.
“Testimony by those who opposed this nomination spoke about how they feared what would happen if Frank were to be confirmed,” Banfield tells Breitbart News. “They feared what he would do with his views on Creationism. They feared what he would do since he supports school choice.”
Excerpts from Volinsky’s questioning of Edelblut about his Christian beliefs and his service at Patrick Henry College, a Christian school that apparently requires faculty and staff to adhere to Christian principles, is as follows:
[D]o you subscribe to this description of God’s creative works that I’ve just shared with you, whether you did it as an agent or do it otherwise?
Patrick Henry College has a required oath of faith for its agents, and I assume, as either a board member or curriculum developer, you had to sign onto that oath of faith…the oath of faith is tied to a biblical worldview that also requires its agents to subscribe to – and, again, I wouldn’t even begin to ask you about this if it wasn’t relevant to what we’re doing here…in the biblical worldview “God’s creative works”…
When objection to Volinsky’s questions about Edelblut’s religious views was voiced, he responded that the nominee “will be in charge of religious, non-religious people, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, and we, I think, are entitled to consider whether it will impact his work as a commissioner…”
Banfield adds that Steven Muzzi, who testified against Edelblut, said he was fearful of Edelblut’s approval because of concern he may push his political ideology onto public schools.
“Did he read the text of the Next Generation Science Standards that were just approved by the New Hampshire Board of Education?” she asks. “There are political ideologies in our new Common Core Next Generation Science Standards.”
Writing at New Hampshire Political Buzz, Kimberly Morin says Volinsky, a member of the “status quo in public education” and recipient of support from “one of the biggest teachers’ unions in the country” was on a “bigoted witch hunt.”
“It was egregious to see the horrifying religious bigotry that was rampant from the left,” she writes. “A few different Edelblut supporters wanted to know if one’s personal religion was going to now be a ‘litmus test’ for all future nominees.”
“I asked them to show me one bit of evidence where he’s pushed his religious views on the public schools,” Banfield says, adding that another criticism launched at Edelblut is his lack of experience or a degree in the field of education.
“It’s important to note that five of the seven board of education members serving in New Hampshire do not have degrees in education and have never taught in a public school,” Banfield observes, noting as well that all those with degrees and education experience in the state ended up promoting the nationalized Common Core.
She adds that Edelblut – in his opening statement to the council – said he supports giving flexibility and autonomy to teachers, and invites local school boards and teachers to make curriculum choices.
“This is a commitment to untie the hands of teachers and school boards instead of continuing down a path that restricts them,” Banfield says.
On Wednesday, the Executive Council tabled Edelblut’s nomination after Volinsky raised yet another “concern,” this time based on procedure. According to the Union Leader:
The motion to confirm Edelblut had been seconded as the council convened on Wednesday when Volinsky raised his point of order, asking if Gov. Chris Sununu had consulted with the state Board of Education prior to the nomination, as required by state statute.
Attorney General Joseph Foster was consulted and agreed with Volinsky’s interpretation of the statute. Sununu recessed the meeting and returned to say the vote should be tabled.
Edelblut, however, appears to have the votes necessary on the Republican-led council to secure the post.
“There was a divide between the providers of education and the consumers of education,” said councilor David Wheeler. “Those who were consumers wanted Frank Edelblut, and those who were providers of education clearly did not. I represent the customer as well as the provider, but I think the customer comes first.”