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Much embarrassment all around on Learn Everywhere lobbying misstep

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We’ve never seen anything like the current battle over Commissioner Edelblut’s “Learn Everywhere” program.  Everywhere you turn, in the face of wide-spread rejection of this proposal, the commissioner is there with his sales pitch – one-on-one with state board members, in meetings to organize visible support and in direct calls to superintendents seeking their support.

But the dustup in Manchester is a telling setback for the effort.

On February 12th, one of those superintendent calls yielded a letter, – apparently the only one so far, from Manchester Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas endorsing the Learn Everywhere program.  It arrived just in time for State Board of Education chair Drew Cline to feature it at the board’s February 14 hearing on Learn Everywhere.

Though the letter was on school district letterhead and signed as “Superintendent of Schools,” Dr. Vargas, who has resigned and has only a few more weeks in the job, did not actually represent his Manchester board, which has not endorsed Learn Everywhere.

Mayor and school board chair Joyce Craig had to write the State Board of Education:

As Mayor and Chair of the Manchester Board of School Committee, I can assure you that the Manchester Board of School Committee has not taken a position on this program, nor has it authorized Dr. Vargas to support this proposal on behalf of the district.

The “Learn Everywhere” program would give the State Board of Education the ability to force Manchester to grant academic credit for programs that are either not aligned with our district’s goals or not up to the rigorous standards we set for our students. Decisions like this should not be made in a boardroom in Concord, but by the Manchester Board of School Committee, who are elected by the people of Manchester every two years and who care the most about the quality of education in Manchester schools.

Have we ever seen this kind of shenanigans from a high level gubernatorial appointee in New Hampshire?

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