Last night, the Wilmington City Council saw the true colors of Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy. He went to the council meeting to present the priority schools plan to the council, and they were not impressed. Murphy actually stated that the DCAS standardized testing system was ineffective, yet this was the overall criteria for judging the 6 Wilmington schools as failing.
When City Council member Nnamdi Chukwuocha tried to present the priority schools as a good thing, Council President Theo Gregory said, about Chukwuocha, “He’s young, he trusts. I don’t trust.” This comment said a lot about the events that occurred last night. Since the onset of the priority schools announcement, it seemed like the momentum was on the side of the Delaware DOE. But ever since last week, when both Red Clay and Christina refused to sign the Memorandum of Understanding behind the priority schools, citizens of Delaware have started to realize this may not be a good thing after all. Gregory’s statement is made from years of Wilmington being promised certain things that never materialized. Events from the City Council meeting last night will resonate with the public of Delaware for a long time. The trust the city showed in the DOE and Murphy is beginning to evaporate.
Last night, at the priority schools conversation in Wilmington, Mark Murphy was invited to answer more questions and he declined and stated he wanted to give his closing statement. In my opinion, this shows a man who has a specific agenda, and once he is done with presenting his part of it, he either wasn’t able or refused to answer questions that could have helped a city understand his agenda better. My guess would be the answers would not have helped the DOE’s cause.
Murphy has been controversial from the start. He was picked by Governor Jack Markell when former Secretary Lillian Lowery resigned. Formerly, Murphy had served as the Executive Director of a non-profit in Delaware called Rodel. Rodel is stacked with a board of millionaires who stand to gain from the education reform movement. This was Governor Markell’s #1 pick for the position, and the Delaware Senate approved this.
As Common Core has rolled out, and Delaware signed on for the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the Delaware Department of Education, under Murphy’s leadership, has gone from one controversial event to another. They have taken over charter schools (Pencader, Reach and Moyer) and the results have been highly ineffective. They have judged schools based on a testing system they have done away with. They have treated public school district teachers like they are a nuisance to be done away with, and many public school district teachers feel demoralized and degraded by the DOE. They have pumped money into charter schools while ignoring the plight of public school districts that feed even more money into the charter schools. They have played games with Title I funding to allow the charter schools to benefit. Special Education has been tampered with to such an effect that Delaware was deemed as “needing intervention” by the US DOE’s Office of Special Education Programs. The list goes on and on, but many feel Murphy should be removed from power.
State Representative John Kowalko said today “Maybe it is time for you to move on Mr. Murphy for the good of “our children.” Delaware blogger Kilroy has called for Murphy’s removal on many occasions. This blogger has said it. Some feel they will just ride with the wave until Markell and Murphy are gone in a couple years. But the problem remains, and with his track record, things will only get worse.
But how does a Delaware Secretary of Education get fired? Who would have to do the job? From the Delaware Code, I found this, under the code for the State Governor:
Section 13. The Governor may for any reasonable cause remove any officer, except the Lieutenant-Governor and members of the General Assembly, upon the address of two-thirds of all the members elected to each House of the General Assembly. Whenever the General Assembly shall so address the Governor, the cause of removal shall be entered on the journals of each House. The person against whom the General Assembly may be about to proceed shall receive notice thereof, accompanied with the cause alleged for his or her removal, at least ten days before the day on which either House of the General Assembly shall act thereon.
I think it would be very difficult for both the House of Representatives and Delaware to muster up enough support for the two-thirds of the Delaware House to agree to something Governor Markell would never allow to begin with. Unless Murphy was found guilty of something criminal, I can’t see anything like this happening. What this means, unless Murphy resigns, is two years and three months of more Mark Murphy. Which will also mean more radical changes by the Delaware DOE which will cripple our education system even more. So we know what the trick is here…