What do I think of Secretary of Education Mark Murphy? This question of me in a sidebar conversation by the famous Delaware blogger, Kilroy, of Kilroy’s Delaware fame. This is a pretty loaded question, because I have several opinions.
Personally, I don’t know the man. Nor would I want to. We don’t travel in the same circles, and for better or worse (go with the latter), he is the executive director of my son’s education in Delaware. With that being said…
He is extremely incompetent. I’ve been to a few Delaware Board of Education meetings, and when he talks, I want to laugh. For the most part, he plays up the parts of education that I abhor the most. Charter Schools, Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessment are his babies, and when he talks about them, it’s like watching a kid play on Xbox for the first time. The glee, the sickening joy in his eyes, the elfish smile on his face…
I have seen him get upset once at a Board of Ed meeting. That was the last one, when the results of the Delaware teacher effectiveness ratings came out. And no Delaware teachers were rated ineffective. 0%! Man, did that piss off Murphy! He looked like someone took away that Xbox! He was visibly angry, and it was obvious he was going to have none of that!
I view his climb to the top of education in our state with shock and no awe. Everyone continues this sentence with “He started out as a gym teacher.” And that isn’t true. Before that, he worked at a residential treatment center. I have no idea which one, or what he did there. These treatment centers are where students with disabilities get sent when the school and the home have run out of options. I would think Murphy would have a pretty good understanding of what these students need if he decided to work at one. I couldn’t be more wrong.
What has become of special education under Murphy’s watch is a nightmare of epic proportions. What he has done to education in general is even worse. He is Governor Jack Markell’s golden boy to implement whatever Jack wants. And as a result, Murphy has become a charter loving Common Core high-stakes test worshipping special education hating maniac. But when the going gets tough, like yesterday at the big meeting between the DOE and the superintendents of the low-income priority schools, Murphy was nowhere to be found. He’s the Secretary of friggin’ Education for the state and he was a no-show! What could be more important than this meeting? As I commented on Kavips blog, maybe he got confused between priority and priory schools! When I see him at Board meetings, he rarely speaks. He’s constantly looking at what appears to be a cell phone and adjusting his glasses. It looks like the last place he wants to be.
Under Murphy’s watch, we have seen Common Core suck the life out of teachers, students and parents. We’ve seen special education go from something halfway between okay and sucks to really sucks. We’ve seen charter school applications increase rapidly. We’ve seen half of Delaware’s race to the top money get kept by the Delaware DOE. We’ve seen the first sign of the Apocalypse, the Smarter Balanced Assessment. We’ve seen him hire 29 year olds to become the new Chief Of Accountability for the DOE. We’ve seen a non-elected state Board of Education do nothing that would contradict Murphy or Jack. We’ve seen him support the destruction of the public school system by getting jacked-up legislation passed that will judge teachers on how a student tests one time a year on The Clockwork Orange Smarter Balanced Test. We’ve seen him not give appropriate funding to schools who need it the most and then support the utter insanity of having the state take those schools back to turn them into charter schools. We’ve seen him support breaking up teacher’s unions by coming out with a Memorandum Of Understanding to two school districts that appears to be plagiarized from other states’ similar edicts (Thanks for that one JY!). We’ve seen tens of millions of dollars go out of state to residential treatment centers because Murphy can’t run the ball on special education right and God knows what else he has cooking with that! We’ve seen him bow to the “masters of education” in Rodel and the Vision year crap, which are just more fronts for the Common Core agenda.
So do I have a high opinion of the guy? Hell no! If I could sum it up in a few sentences, it would be this. You have only one pair of shoes. You step in gum. The gum won’t get off your shoe no matter how hard you try. It annoys the hell out of you, and it affects you every time you put your damn shoes on. And you can’t buy new shoes, so you are stuck with this crap on your shoes, all the time. Mark Murphy is the gum on my shoe that just won’t go away. And he has played this role for every public school student, teacher and parent.