Former charter school leader Karin Cevasco published an oped in today’s Concord Monitor describing her experience in applying for the new “Charter Public School Program Officer” position at the New Hampshire Department of Education. The position was created in 2016 by SB 483, sponsored by Sen. Dan Feltes with a long list of Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.
Ms. Cevasco said that she was concerned about politicization of the position:
But the job description Commissioner Edelblut posted does not reflect the statute. It says the goal is to “provide assistance to stakeholders in other school choice opportunities . . . and developing or revising school choice policies.” The responsibilities include providing “assistance . . . in implementing laws and regulations related to charter schools, home schools and nonpublic schools” and evaluating “policies, procedures and guidelines for public school choice in New Hampshire.”
The interview itself was even more alarming:
When I advanced through the interview process and met with Commissioner Edelblut, the first question he asked was about my thoughts on the Common Core. When I said I thought they were reasonable standards, he questioned their effectiveness and asked how we can fix public education…..
And, finally, Commissioner Edelblut asked me how I felt about the Education Savings Accounts that would be established by Senate Bill 193. I said something noncommittal since I did not consider SB 193 relevant to the position we were discussing. He responded that we have to get ESAs passed, and that it is the role of this charter school position to advocate for school choice.
I do not read the attached job posting/job description as consistent with duties and charges specified in RSA 21-N:4, XII. I would respectfully request the Department revise the job posting/job description to be consistent with the duties and charges specified…
Agreeing that he would put a link to the statute into the job description after the position had been filled, the commissioner did not agree to change the position announcement itself.
When Commissioner Edelblut was asked about the issue at the December 14 meeting of the State Board of Education, he assured the board (at 2:40:00) that this would not be an lobbying position. “What I can tell you is that as a state agency, it would be against the law for us to lobby and we don’t lobby on any matter.” he said. Asked, pressed further, the commissioner said that the job description would match the legislation.