BEDFORD, N.H. – With U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos scheduled to appear at two schools in Bedford, Democratic Party Gubernatorial Candidate Dan Feltes was on hand with a group protesting the DeVos visit to share to describe why he would be a better choice than incumbent Chris Sununu.
Feltes criticized Sununu regarding his Fiscal Year 2020-’21 budget veto, with $140 million in that budget that would have gone to public education, also criticizing Sununu providing CARES Act funding to private and religious schools and his school reopening protocols.
“All our kids deserve a foundation as strong as the granite under our soil,” said Feltes. “I have the fundamental belief that we’re in this together. On public school and school reopenings, Chris Sununu said ‘you’re on your own,’ Public schools, educators and families, you’re on your own. So it’s outrageous that Chris Sununu says he can’t support our public schools. We have to support all our public schools, but Sununu is working to undermine them.”
Feltes also chastised Sununu in regard to a letter he sent in response to the Manchester School District on Thursday, agreeing with statements made by Manchester’s three state senators voicing their frustrations at Sununu’s sentiments. (see attached letter.)
Representatives from Governor Sununu’s campaign did not respond on Friday for a request for comment.
Among those assembled outside DeVos’ second stop on the Bedford tour at McKelvie Intermediate School, a stop suddenly cancelled after it was later revealed that two students within the school tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day, frustrations were evident with what they felt was Sununu’s support of charter schools over private schools.
Bernice Dunlop came to the event from Laconia. A former teacher in the Franklin school system for 40 years, Dunlop felt frustrated with DeVos and others that supported charter schools due to differing certification standards, although she said she could not support charter schools even if their certification standards were put in line with those of public schools.
“They’re prying money away from public schools to charter schools and charter schools don’t even need to have teachers who are certified. They can have anybody. I don’t understand it,” she said. “I just don’t understand. The public schools need money, they need help. They’re not just for the few.”
New Hampshire High School Democrats Diversity Director Akanksha Vasireddy echoed Feltes’ sentiments about Sununu and also criticized Republican U.S. Senate Nominee Corky Messner as well along the same lines.
Later in the day, the New Hampshire Democratic Party added to Vasireddy’s statement, releasing a video call made by Messner earlier in the year where he believed that the Department of Education does not do anything worthwhile.
At an event in Salem that evening, Messner responded with criticism of Democrats in the New Hampshire legislature for rejecting a $46 million dollar grant for charter schools, noting that he had heard frustration with charter school leaders he met who were relying upon that funding.
“I am a supporter of education freedom, school choice,” said Messner. “I think we should do everything we can to support school choice, including charter schools, including home schooling and including vouchers.”