It’s been two years since the last “big” election. I think we all could have predicted that Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump would continue to undermine public education every chance they could – and they did. I think we all know that Commissioner Edelblut would do everything in his power to implement the Trump-DeVos agenda – and he did. I think we all hoped that Governor Sununu would be more moderate in his approach toward education. Instead, he showed just how devoted he was to the notion of dismantling public education when he opposed funding increases, and how little he cared for our health and safety as the pandemic dragged on and we were told we’d be protected by his Swiss Cheese reopening plan.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was in New Hampshire last month. We knew she was not here to advocate for additional support and resources for our public schools because she had never done so before. And we were right.
Her visit to celebrate the reopening success of some of our schools was disingenuous at best as both she and our own Governor and Education Commissioner succeeded in diverting funds meant to help public schools reopen safely to private schools.
As President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos has made it her mission to dismantle public education. She promotes the privatization of public schools through vouchers, continually calls for deep cuts to federal funding, rolls back protections for vulnerable children, and completely disregards their safety and the safety of educators during a global pandemic.
Here in New Hampshire, with Governor Sununu’s full support, Commissioner of Education Frank Edelblut has adopted the DeVos agenda, promoting voucher schemes to fund private and charter schools, rolling back local control of graduation requirements, and diverting COVID relief funds. When the largest increase in funding to public education in state history was passed, both the Governor and Commissioner opposed the plan, opting instead to seek federal funding for charter schools.
The Trump and Sununu administrations have both been disasters for public education. Having Betsy DeVos in town certainly amplified the link between them and their efforts to undermine public education.
The simple truth is, we’d love to not be involved in politics, but almost every part of our profession is controlled by politicians and voters.
Elections matter. Our students are counting on us to make a difference. For the sake of our students and their parents, we need to be sure that the Governor’s office returns to the hands of a champion of public education and working families. Public school students, educators and their families cannot trust Chris Sununu as governor now and can certainly not afford to have him remain in office for another term.
Governor Sununu was the cheerleader for a program that stripped locally elected officials and locally run school districts from determining when and how students would earn credit for graduation. When he was most needed to provide just a modicum of guidance at the state level to lead the safe reopening of schools during this pandemic, he abandoned his responsibilities and left everyone else to “figure it out.”
Chris Sununu opposed additional aid to school districts which would have provided taxpayers relief from a too underfunded school system and when it was passed over his objections he tried to take credit for the additional money. As educators, we believe credit should be given where credit is due. When it comes to school funding, Sununu deserves no credit at all.
His priorities are wrong, and his agenda is dangerous.
Now more than ever, we need a leader who will fight for students and educators – not leave them out to dry.
During his time in the state senate, Dan Feltes has been a champion of education and educators – fighting for and securing the largest boost in education funding in state history. Sununu and Edelblut have never understood or appreciated our public schools or the dedicated educators who work there. We need look no further than the Swiss Cheese school reopening plan which contained no minimum health standards for reopening our school buildings. Dan Feltes showed true leadership by listening to the voices of educators and built a comprehensive plan to keep kids and educators as safe as possible and give schools the resources they need.
We’re confident that Dan will do this as Governor – listen to the voices of NH’s educators – something Sununu and his commissioner have failed to do during their 4 years in office.
NEA-New Hampshire recommended candidates are pro-education, pro-educator, pro-student, and believe as we do that every child in NH deserves a great public school, and caring qualified educators. I urge you to support them. They are listed in this edition.
The recommendation process used by NEA-New Hampshire has been in place for many years and has been used countless times to make recommendations in the past for federal, state and local offices. The Government Relations (GR) Committee is responsible for producing these recommendations and forwarding them to the Executive Board for approval and action.
The GR Committee conducts candidate interviews, evaluates candidate’s positions in regards to education policy and forwards any recommendations to the Executive Board. This process is not a popularity contest or a member survey. It is designed to determine, face-to-face, where candidates stand on our issues, and then recommend to our members the candidate who the Committee believes would best serve our students, our members, and public education. The Committee does not look at issues beyond public education and public sector collective bargaining rights.
Our ability to sit with each candidate, ask questions and report back to our members allows us to look beyond stump speeches and commercials, and more deeply into the candidate’s position on our issues. We are the only state affiliate of NEA that uses this face-to-face recommendation method.
In evaluating each candidate, the Committee reviews their responses and their voting record. The committee is looking for past support of public education funding and policies, support of collective bargaining rights, and protection of retirement security for educators.
We need elected officials who will keep our students first and extreme political ideology out of the discussion. We cannot afford to allow New Hampshire to become a state where a few people do really well, while a growing number of people struggle to get by.
Because so much is at stake, we know that this year’s election will be different from previous cycles, with more people expected to vote by mail and voting earlier than ever before. Stand strong for education this election and vote for NEA-NH recommended candidates.