Exceptional Delaware Photo Of The Day

Mark Murphy and the horrible, terrible, no good day

Just imagine being Mark Murphy today.  Having all that bad news heaped upon him today.  It can’t be easy being Delaware’s Secretary of Education.  I have to imagine what his day must have been like today…

Mark arrived late at the office.  He explained to his administrative assistant why he was half an hour late. “There I am, driving down Route 1.  Beautiful sunrise, nice weather.  John Kowalko called me with questions about opt out.  Every time I tried to talk he cut me off.  Half an hour later, he’s still going.  I had to take it off blue tooth.  That’s when he nabbed me and I got a ticket.” “How fast were you going?” she asked.  “I wasn’t going too fast, I was going too slow.  I was going 35 in a 65.”

Mark went to his morning meetings and went over the agenda for the State Board meeting.  He spilled some coffee all over his brand-new white shirt when Penny Schwinn came running in with big news.  Mark read the news and his face turned pale, as if someone had taken his favorite pair of glasses.  Then his wife called.  “Mark, I just heard.  Are you okay?”  “No, I’m not okay.  Two years in a row.  How come I’m not in the top ten?”  “Mark, are you okay?  What are you talking about?  Have you been doing those Smarter Balanced interim tests again?”  “No, it’s Holodick.  I’m the Secretary of the whole gosh-darn Delaware education system, and he’s still making $45,000 more than me.  It just isn’t right.  And those not nice bloggers keep saying he will replace me one day.  Will he get to keep his salary then?”  “Maybe you’ll get his job honey.  It would be closer to home.  But that’s not what I called about.  It’s this article in Newsworks…”

Mrs. Murphy was cut off by the director of the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit.  “Boss, holy crap, you gotta be pissed!  I’ll show those #@$%ing teachers!  I think it’s time for Operation Human Capital Drop!”  “Christopher Ruszkowsi, good gracious, I’m on the phone with my wife.  Can you come back at another time?”  “Sure Murph, I’ll come back in five.”  Murphy just stared at him as the “Rus Man” gave an enthusiastic thumbs up leaving the office.

“Sorry honey, what were you calling about?”  “On Newsworks, they reported…”  This time it was David Blowman, his Deputy Secretary.  “Mark, my friend, I’m so sorry.  We need to do a root-cause analysis and find out who put them up to this.”  “David, I’m on the line with Mrs….”  “Oh dear heavens Mark, I’m so sorry.  I will embark immediately.”  The coffee on Mark’s shirt was still seeping down his shirt.

“I’m going to have to call you back,” as Mark abruptly said his goodbyes.  This had been a hell of a morning, and all he wanted to do was crawl back into bed and watch “Common Core for Common People Part 9: The Commonalities of Common Teachers.”  He missed it the other night when Earl Jaques kept calling him asking for advice on how to handle the media.  Ruszkowski ran into his office again, “Holy crap Murph, your supposed to have green clothes on St. Patrick’s Day, not spill it on your shirt!”  Mark just stared at him.  “What, I was just messing around Boss!  Anyways, you know I got your back on this.  I’m gonna TFA their schools like we’ve never seen before.  I got an ad on Craigslist as we speak!  And we are going to lower the requirement from 5 weeks to 3 weeks to get them in faster.”  “But that’s not in regulation Christopher, we can’t just…”  “Sure we can, we’ve done it before.  Remember that time when we…”

Karen Field Rogers, his Associate Secretary of Financial Reform and Resource Management came into his office.  “Mark, I think you spilled some coffee on…”  “Yeah, the Boss doesn’t really have the luck of the Irish today!” Ruszkowski shouted.  “What can I do for you Karen?”  “I just got off the phone with Rep. Hudson.  She’s going to need us to do a cursive study.  Do we have any funds left from Race To The Top to do an RFP for a contractor on this?” she asked.  “I don’t know.  Call Herdman, he controls all that.”  “But Mark, Jack wants this out there right away.   He think this might turn the tide with the opt out movement and distract parents from the blogs.”  “Better call Paul!” Ruszkowsi shouted.  Mark looked at them both, his cheeks as red as John Young’s Red Pen editions on Transparent Christina.  “Look, I have to run out to Target.  I’ll handle it when I get back.”

Mark drove down to Target.  He was in such a hurry, he didn’t realize he parked in a handicapped spot.  As he ran into the store, he accidentally ran into a little boy.  As he helped him up, the boy sneezed in his face.  “Can this day get any worse?” Mark asked himself.  He got to the checkout line with a new white shirt.  The cashier was on her cell phone saying “Oh my God, I can’t believe it.”  Mark looked at her and asked “Is everything alright ma’am?”  “Yeah, I’m on Exceptional Delaware, and they just announced the DSEA voted for no confidence in that Mark Murphy guy.”  “Don’t you mean the CEA and RCEA?”  “No, that was last week.  This just came out today.  Sorry, let me ring you up.”  Mark reached for his wallet, but it wasn’t there.  He remembered he left it on the dashboard when he got his ticket.  “I’ll be right back, I left my wallet in my car.”  “I can’t keep this order open.  What’s your name?”  Murphy said “Never mind” and ran out.

He noticed a police officer standing over his car, writing something.  “Officer, is everything okay?”  “Sir, you parked in a handicapped space but you don’t have the plates or even the placard.  I have to give you a ticket.”  “You do realize I’m a high-level official in this state?” Murphy asked the officer.  “Oh are you?  This isn’t something you can just ignore or shake it off.”  Mark recognized the face immediately.  It was that Dover cop who did the Taylor Swift lip-synch video on Youtube.  How could he ever forget?  His children played the video non-stop the weekend it was released.  “I am the Secretary of Education Sir.”  “Oh, so you want to opt out of getting a ticket.  But that could affect funding,” as the cop laughed.  “Here you go Mr. Secretary.  By the way, it looks like you spilled some coffee on your shirt.”

Mark went back into the store, got another shirt, and the only cashier available was the one he went to before.  “Oh, you found your wallet!”  Mark gave her his card.  “Can I see some ID?”  Mark showed her his license.  “Hey, are you the same Mark Murphy as the DOE guy?”  “Yes I am.”  “That has to bite, having all those teachers saying you suck.”  “I haven’t read the article yet.”  “I still have Exceptional Delaware up on my iPad.  Do you want to read it?”  Mark muttered under his breath.  The last thing he wanted to do was read Exceptional Damn Delaware.  This blogger had been a thorn in his side for nine months, after dealing with Kilroys and the rest all those years.  “I’m good.”

Mark stopped by WaWa, changed into his new shirt in the bathroom.  As he came out, Donna Johnson, the executive director of the State Board saw him.  “Mark, are you okay?  I just left the building and everyone said you were really upset about the whole DSEA article.”  “I’m okay, we will get through this.  How is everyone else doing?”  “What are you talking about Mark?  It was just you.  They didn’t give the DOE and the State Board a vote of no confidence.  It was just you.”  Mark stared at Donna and felt his world spinning around him.  Since the bathroom doors are right next to the service door, Mark wasn’t paying attention when a delivery man pushed the door open with a cart causing the door to swing into Mark.  Mark felt the lights go out around him.

He woke up in a bright room.  Everything was blurry.  Mark went to push his glasses up, but they weren’t there.  He heard a voice.  “Murph.  You’re up.  Hot damn, you are a mess!”  It was Ruszkowski.  “Where am I?”  “You’re at Bayhealth.  You passed out in WaWa man!  Donna called me.  She’s in the next room.”  “What happened to her?” Mark asked.  “She hit her head against a Twinkie display when you pushed her down.  She’ll be okay, only a couple stitches.”  Mark went to get up, but he couldn’t move.  “Don’t try to get up Boss.  You’ll be in traction for a couple days.  You actually broke your ass Murph!”  Ruszkowski kept talking about how he talked to Paul and Laurissa about getting some TFA action going immediately in light of the DSEA announcement.  “In fact, there’s a new bill to get another year extension.  Can you believe that Boss?  Those *&%$ing legislators think they know more about education than we do.  Anyways, I gotta get back.  I know Jack is waiting to see you.”

Murphy started smiling.  Jack always had a way of making him feel better.  He looked outside, and it was dark out.  How long had he been unconscious?  Jack came in.  “Mark, Mark, Mark.  This isn’t good.  You made more news today than you’ve had during your entire tenure as my Secretary.”  Mark wanted to cry.  “I’m going to have to temporarily replace you while you mend.”  “Who do you have in mind Jack?” Murphy asked.  “I was thinking about Mark Holodick…”  Murphy screamed.  An endless scream.  It was heard by children down the street at Dover South Elementary School.  Priests came running out from Holy Cross across the street.  As Murphy stopped, Jack looked at Mark.  “Can I get you some coffee?”  Murphy screamed again…

House Bill 53: Charters Must Be Audited By State Auditor

Delaware State Rep. Kim Williams introduced legislation that would make Delaware charter schools have to go through the same auditing process as school districts and vocational districts with their yearly audit.  Since 2010, charters have been exempt from being audited by the Delaware State Auditor’s office, currently run by Tom Wagner.

In light of financial improprieties by Family Foundations Academy, Pencader and a slew of other charters that has not yet come into public notice, this bill is timely and important.  The charters have the ability now to hire an independent auditor, but this bill would change all that and would cause the charters to be audited the same way all other public schools in Delaware are required to.

Rookie State Rep. Lynn’s House Bill 55 Will Please Teachers in Delaware!

Delaware State Rep. Sean Lynn introduced legislation today to have another year added before Delaware teachers would have the Smarter Balanced Assessment scores be a part of their rated teacher effectiveness.  This current year was already part of last year’s waiver since Smarter Balanced was just rolled out, but this would stop the madness for another year.  I am sure everyone would be happy if it was gone altogether, but this is a good step!

Delaware House Bill 52 Would Make Cursive Mandatory in Delaware Public Schools

I didn’t see this one coming, but I am all for it!  How can students sign checks and important documents if they don’t know how to do it when they are “college and career ready”?

 

DSEA Passes Resolution For No Confidence In Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

This past weekend, the Delaware State Educators Association passed a resolution indicating they have no confidence in Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy to effectively lead Delaware in education.  As reported by Avi Wolfman-Arent on WHYY/Newsworks today,

The resolution comes shortly after unions representing teachers at the state’s two largest school districts passed a similar measure. It also points to growing discord between the union and state leaders, who once earned kudos for working together,  but recently have clashed over teacher evaluation, teacher training, and the use of standardized tests.

“It is no secret that many public school employees are frustrated by the decisions and actions coming out of the Department of Education,” said union president Frederika Jenner, in a statement. “This past weekend, that collective frustration manifested itself in a vote of ‘No Confidence” in Secretary Murphy.”

The resolution stopped short at Murphy, and did not call out the Delaware Department of Education and the State Board of Education which the Christina and Red Clay Educators Association both did in their resolution last week, but it sends a very clear message that educators in Delaware are fed up with the policies of the Department and believe it is time for a change.  I think the majority of the citizens of Delaware are also reaching this point…

To read more on this story, please go here: http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/79647-delaware-teachers-union-votes-no-confidence-in-secretary-of-education?l=dt

How Are Delaware Students Benefitting From Superintendent Salaries?

It is not Mark Murphy.  This honor belongs to Brandywine Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick.  According to a Delawareonline report issued today with a top ten list of the state’s highest paid employees, Holodick made $215,043.72 in 2014.  Even our own Governor Markell ranked at 85th on the list with his income of $171,000.03.  This seems like a very large salary for a district superintendent.

In 2014, Delaware Online listed all state employees making over $100,000.  This list can be found here: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2014/04/05/data-top-state-salaries/7312283/

I went through the list for each charter and school district listed, and pulled out the following:

Noel Rodriguez, Academy of Dover, $119,432

Matthew Burrows, Appoquinimink, $152,660, 31 over $100k

Mark Holodick, Brandywine, $214,176, 71 over $100k

Kevin Fitzgerald, Caesar Rodney, $162,547, 26 over $100k

Robert Fulton, Cape Henlopen, $154,821, 32 over $100k

Michael Thomas, Capital, $199,564, 35 over $100k

Samuel Paoli, Charter School of Wilmington, $116,368, 3 over $100k

Freeman Williams, Christina, $192,088, 108 over $100k

Dorothy Linn, Colonial, $185,724, 54 over $100k

Charles Hughes, DE Academy of Public Safety, $129,433

Angela Dennis, Delaware College Prep, $115,448

Anthony Pullela, Delaware Military Academy, $111,777

David Ring, Delmar, $139,260, 3 over $100k

Mark Murphy, DOE, $160,144.92, 58 over $100k

Lamont Browne, EastSide Charter, $143,633

Tennell Brewington, Family Foundations Academy, $127,418, 2 over $100k

Susan Bunting, Indian River, $165,885, 21 over $100k

David Curry, Lake Forest, $147,374, 12 over $100k

John Ewald, Laurel, $138,660

Phyllis Koehl, Milford, $146,897, 14 over $100k

Linda Jennings, MOT Charter, $125,845, 3 over $100k

Victoria Gehrt, New Castle Co. Vo-Tech, $184,433, 43 over $100k

Greg Meece, Newark Charter School, $153,788, 4 over $100k

Nick Manolakos, Odyssey Charter, $115,423

Deborah Zych, Polytech, $152,365, 8 over $100k

Audrey Erschen, Providence Creek, $112,679

Mervin Daugherty, Red Clay, $174,931, 103 over $100k

Shawn Joseph, Seaford, $172,502.24, 12 over $100k

Deborah Wicks, Smyrna, $151,645, 17 over $100k

Allen Stafford, Sussex Academy, $106,604

Allen Lathbury, Sussex Tech, $164,361, 14 over $100k

Salome Thomas-EL, Thomas Edison Charter, $133,486

Heath Chasanov, Woodbridge, $135,544, 7 over $100k

It’s become obvious the number of districts and charter schools in Delaware has caused a great deal of money to go towards administrative positions.  For a state with three counties, we have 19 school districts, and many charters.  Even Matt Denn, now Attorney General, spoke out on this issue in 2012:

“A report issued by Lt. Gov. Matt Denn in 2012 found that if all school districts spent as much money on “direct educational services” as the top five, the state would free up an addition $2.1 million for classrooms.

“We’re still spending too much on administration versus classroom, both at the state level and at the district level,” said Denn, adding that districts should explore ways to share administrative functions.”

In my opinion, I completely agree with Denn’s position on this, as written by Matthew Albright for the News Journal in a link found here: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2014/04/05/state-employees-earned-k-last-year/7355333/

This state has an extreme amount of bloated salaries, but I don’t see the benefits for this money going to the students.  Perhaps it’s time for more than just a look at Wilmington’s school districts…

 

 

Transcript: Juan Gonzalez on Hedge Funds and Charters

This could never happen in Delaware, right? We don’t know of any companies in Delaware that contribute to hedge funds, right? Right On Delaware Education Love. That is a clue…

Diane Ravitch's blog

This is a great discussion, in which Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now” interviews Juan Gonzalez of the NY Daily News about the big money pushing charter schools. The discussion is based on this article.

“New York Hedge Funds Pour Millions of Dollars into Cuomo-Led Bid to Expand Charter Schools | Democracy Now!

In his latest column for the New York Daily News, Democracy Now! co-host Juan González reports on the tens of millions of dollars in hedge fund donations behind the push for charter schools in New York state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the single biggest recipient, hauling in $4.8 million. After winning approval for up to $2,600 more per pupil for charter school facilities, Cuomo is calling on the state Legislature to increase the state limit on charter schools.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan, before we move on with our first segment, you have a very interesting piece in the…

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Correct The Blogger Challenge: “EastSide Charter’s Proficiency Gains Have Nothing To Do With Attrition”

In the first “Correct The Blogger Challenge” email I received, an anonymous individual under the pseudonym “Education Opinions” wrote to me about my article on EastSide Charter School from last week.  They wrote:

This is in response to your  3/10 post “The Recipe Behind the ‘Pixie Dust’ at Eastside Charter: Very High Attrition Rates, Part 1.” I want to start by saying that I don’t work at Eastside, I’m not on their board, I don’t have any kids at the school, I don’t work for the DOE, and I am not related to anyone who meets any of those qualifications either. I am just a community member concerned about the way data (for both traditional and charter schools) is sometimes utilized to make points that might not be completely accurate.

In your post, you state,
Governor Jack Markell gave the keynote speech, and left immediately afterwards for another engagement.  He spoke about Eastside Charter School’s great job with closing proficiency gaps, and stated “they have gone from only having 15% of their 5th graders scoring proficient in reading to 66% in just three years.”  If only this were true…”. You then go on to post the number of students in each K-6 grade from the year 2009 until the current year, citing high attrition as a reason why this proficiency statistic can’t be true. 
Continue reading Correct The Blogger Challenge: “EastSide Charter’s Proficiency Gains Have Nothing To Do With Attrition”