Seven Delaware Charters Bow Out of DPAS-II Teacher Evaluation System

Delaware Charters, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, Teacher Evaluation System

Last month at the State Board of Education meeting, former Secretary of Education Mark Murphy announced he approved many charter schools for a minor modification involving their Teacher Evaluation system.  The schools are Positive Outcomes Charter School, Family Foundations Academy, Las Americas ASPIRA, Academia Antonia Alsonso, Early College High School, First State Military Academy, and The Delaware Met.  Oddly enough, the only school I knew that applied for this does not have anything listed on the Delaware DOE website about this.  But Freire Charter School of Wilmington is still on probation status.  Family Foundations Academy had their probation lifted at the same State Board of Education meeting. Family Foundation’s alternate teacher evaluation system will fall under the Delaware Charter Collaborative system that already includes East Side, Prestige Academy, Kuumba, and Thomas Edison.

By Delaware law, the Secretary of Education does not need the assent of the State Board of Education to approve a minor modification, nor are formal meetings of the Charter School Accountability Committee or formal Public Hearings.  But here’s my thing with all this.  One of the questions on the application for a minor modification request is this:

The authorizer will review your most recent Performance Review Reports as part of your application. Discuss the school’s academic performance, compliance with the terms of its charter, and financial viability as measured by the Performance Framework.

Four of these charters have NEVER had a Performance Review since they either opened last year (Academia Antonia Alonso and Early College High School) or this year (First State Military Academy and The Delaware Met).  Granted, the first two charters will have a performance review in the next month or so, but my point is this- should we be changing an established system in favor of an alternate system for charters that have never been put through a performance review?  In my opinion, this should be reserved for schools that have some data behind them to back this up.  One only has to look at the horror show of the past month and a half with The Delaware Met to know they should not be approved for an alternate system for teacher evaluation when they can’t even prove they know how to run a school!  Below are all the school’s applications and the section of Delaware code that allows for this.

9.9 Minor modifications

9.9.1 A minor modification is any proposed change to a charter, including proposed changes to any condition placed on the charter, which is not a major modification. Minor modifications include, but are not limited to: Changes to the name of either the charter school or charter holder; or The first extension of any deadline imposed on the charter school or charter holder by thirty (30) working days or less (or by 15 calendar days in the case of the First Instructional Day); or In the case of a charter school which is open with students in attendance, offering educational services at a site other than, or in addition to, the site approved as part of the school’s charter, when use of the approved site has unavoidably been lost by reason of fire or other casualty as that term is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary; or An increase or decrease in the school’s total authorized enrollment of more than 5%, but not more than 15%, provided further the minor modification request must be filed between November 1st and December 31st and, if approved, shall be effective the following school year; or Alter, expand or enhance existing or planned school facilities or structures, including any plan to use temporary or modular structures, provided that the applicant demonstrates that the school will maintain the health and safety of the students and staff and remain economically viable as provided in 4.4 above; or Any change in the school’s agreement with an educational management organization other than as set forth in 9.4.3 and above; or A change to the current authorized number of hours, either daily or annually, devoted to actual school sessions. Regardless of any proposed change, the school shall maintain the minimum instructional hours required by Title 14 of the Delaware Code; or A change in the terms of the current site facilities arrangements including, but not limited to, a lease to a purchase or a purchase to a lease arrangement; or

9.9.2 The Secretary may decide the minor modification application based on the supporting documents supplied with the application unless the Secretary finds that additional information is needed from the applicant.

9.9.3 The Secretary may refer a minor modification request to the Accountability Committee for review if the Secretary determines, in her/his sole discretion, that such review would be helpful in her/his consideration of the application. If the Secretary refers a minor modification application to the Accountability Committee, she/he may decide the application based on any report from the Committee and the supporting documents related to the application. The applicant for a minor modification shall be notified if the minor modification request has been forwarded to the Accountability Committee. The applicant may be asked to provide additional supporting documentation.

9.9.4 The Secretary may deny a minor modification request if the supporting documentation is incomplete or insufficient provided the applicant has been advised additional information was needed

9.9.5 Upon receiving an application for a minor modification, the Secretary shall notify the State Board of the application and her/his decision on whether to refer the application to the Accountability Committee.

9.9.6 The meeting and hearing process provided for in Section 511(h), (i) and (j) of the Charter School Law shall not apply to a minor modification application even where the Secretary refers the application to the Accountability Committee.

9.9.7 Decisions for minor modifications to a charter may be decided by the Secretary within 30 working days from the date the application was filed, unless the timeline is waived by mutual agreement of the Secretary and the applicant, or in any case where the Secretary, in the sole discretion of the Secretary, deems that it would be beneficial to either refer the matter to the Accountability Committee or to seek advice from the State Board prior to deciding the matter.

Nowhere in this part of Delaware code is there anything about teacher evaluation systems.  But that is covered under the very loose “Minor modifications include, but are not limited to” part of this in 9.9.1.  That is a very major change to a school’s operations, and should be a major modification.  When these schools apply, the applications go to the Teacher Leader Effectiveness Unit at the Delaware DOE, led by Chris Ruszkowski.  Once they approve it, it goes to the Secretary of Education.  But I’m not surprised the DOE and Secretary Murphy would play fast and loose with state code to get what they want with charters…

In Honor Of His Last Day, It’s “Murphy’s Greatest Hits”

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy


Today is Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s last day as the leader of education in Delaware.  What a long strange trip it’s been Mark!  And I’ve only been doing this for 15 1/2 months!  In honor of your long-awaited farewell, I went back and looked for the articles I’ve written that really capture the essence of you.  Best of luck on your future endeavors.  Just do us a favor, can you go out of state to do them?

The Very Disturbing Mark Murphy Video

Murphy Rubs Salt In A Festering Wound

Murphy Channels Puff The Magic Dragon

Merry Christmas Mark!


How To Discriminate Against 5 Different Groups In One Shot

The Gum On The Shoe Paradox

Why Murphy Got Fired

Murphy Lies On Public TV, Assures House Bill 50 Victory


Calling Mark Murphy & The State Board A Joke!

What Should Have Ended A Year Ago

Transcript From The Delaware Way

Mark Murphy and the horrible, terrible, no good day


Mike Matthews Emails Murphy Over Stupid Survey

Mark Gets Grilled By Wilmington City Council

Mark Heckled At Wilmington City Council Meeting

The Cringe-Worthy Newsworks Interview

Mark Bo Peep

The Anti-Mark Murphy Bill

The Mark Murphy-Kate Winslet Story

Two Biggest Education Associations Say No More Mark

Bye Mark! It’s been real, it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun!

If You Thought Mark Murphy Would Be Gone After Today, Think Again….

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

Well, well, well, looks like Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy is here to stay.  At least until we get a new Governor.  Yesterday it was announced Murphy joined the Council of Chief State School Officers Board of Directors.  From the press release yesterday:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Delaware Chief Joins CCSSO Board of Directors

Contact:Melissa McGrathmelissa.mcgrath@ccsso.org202-336-7034

Washington, D.C. (June 29, 2015) — The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today announced Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy will join its 2014-2015 Board of Directors.

CCSSO’s Board of Directors manages the overall business affairs of the Council and is the governing body of the organization. The board is composed of the president, the president-elect, the past president, and six directors elected by CCSSO members.

“Whether it’s through his work on educator preparation or college readiness for kids, Mark is dedicated to ensuring all students have access to a high-quality education. We are honored to have him join our Board of Directors,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO.”

I can tell you Delaware isn’t thrilled at this news.  We were hoping he would fade into the woodwork after today, which is the last day of our fiscal year.  But it sounds like Delaware Governor Markell has the utmost faith in the man who the Delaware State Educators Association, the two largest district education associations, the Delaware Association of School Administrators, and a legion of parents have publicly stated they have no confidence in the Secretary.

Rumors have been going around for years that Murphy would either resign or be removed from his position, but it never happens.  Most feel Markell holds on to Murphy at the risk of his own reputation, and the Secretary is an anchor on a ship that is no longer holding water.

This is not good news for folks who were hoping for change.  The Delaware DOE’s approval rating is at an all-time low, and with more charter scandals popping everyday under their watch, parents opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessments, and legislators wanting massive change in this Department, Murphy remains intact with even more power now.  Only in Delaware…

Mark Murphy And His Magical Educational Journey To Excellence

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, House Bill 50, Parent Opt-Out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment

I’ve seen Mark Murphy speak a few times and he was definitely playing it up a bit for the news cameras on him at the Senate Education Committee meeting a few days ago.  If there is one thing you can say about the former gym teacher, he is certainly consistent.

Thank you Senator.  We are all, all of us, appreciative of Senator Townsend’s sentiment that we are all supporting our children as they take this educational journey to excellence. And hopefully that will lead into success not just in 4th grade or 5th grade, but obviously success well into high school and beyond high school years.  In order to help deliver our children into a place where they are successful in the world we have to measure their progress along the way.  And to understand whether they’re on track to be successful in those middle school years, in those high school years, and beyond.  So that’s what this is about, this is about measuring progress.  When we use that progress, when we use that measurement, in order to understand what’s working.  Our pedalogical approach is working, our curriculum is working, the way that we organize our schools, the way that we allocate budgets, the way we resource schools and which schools need additional resources.  If we do not have measurement of how our students are doing against the standards that their teachers are teaching to them, then we are unable to make well-informed great decisions.  Certainly at this level, also at a school and district level.  Measurement matters.  We also agree, that we are testing too much.  We have said that a number of times over these recent months and we have launched an initiative to take a look at how many assessments our children are taking.  And more importantly than the number of assessments they are taking, is the quality, whether these are redundant assessments.  If they test the same thing the child was assessed on a week ago.  Are they relevant assessments for what the child needs to be learning to be successful later? Are they high quality?  Do they give us good data in order to make informed decisions?  And so while we recognize that we are in the middle of that process, we are asking that we allow that process to take hold, before we start making major decisions about opting out of important measurement tools.  Finally, these assessments help to unlock doors for us, the decision-makers, for our kids, for our parents, for our educators, in regards to decisions they can make to support the children better.  And that information is available at the student level, the teacher level, the school level, and the state level.  And we all need this information to move forward.

Is it just me, or does it kind of creep you out when he keeps referring to “our” children?  Not my kid Mark!  The information available Mark, does that mean we can ALL see the tests and the answers and the actual questions?  Sorry buddy, but a lot of parents have jumped off your train trip to la la land.  Cue the Puff the Magic Dragon music, we are out of here!

Mark Murphy’s New Outlook On Life

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

Delaware Senate Bill 72 Would Prevent Another Mark Murphy As Secretary Of Education

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 72 in Delaware.  This bill would change the qualifications for the Delaware Secretary of Education.  Had this been law four years ago, Mark Murphy would not have qualified.  I believe the Delaware legislators are way past the point where they are sick of the Delaware Department of Education and their shenanigans.

Rumors Abound About Mark Murphy’s Resignation & Governor Markell’s Response

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy


A couple months ago, the Delaware blogosphere lit up one Friday afternoon regarding a rumor that Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy was either going to resign or be terminated.  One blogger heard what they felt was a solid rumor that Murphy and Associate Secretary of Education David Blowman were terminated.  This rumor, squashed by Executive Director of the State Board of Education Donna Johnson, was put to rest.  However, many things have happened since then.

The Christina, Red Clay and Delaware State Educator Associations have all issued a no confidence press release regarding Mark Murphy.  I even denounced him at the Parent Press Conference last week (not that my voice carries that much clout in the First State).  Murphy appeared on The Delaware Way and said parents aren’t allowed to opt out.  Many seem shocked Governor Markell would continue to let Mark Murphy be the leader of education in Delaware.  But he is still here.

The latest rumor, which I’m hearing from a few sources, all unconnected, is that Murphy already gave Governor Markell his letter of resignation, but Markell won’t accept it.  While everyone is begging for the Secretary to be replaced, the Governor is holding onto him as if he is the lifeline of education in Delaware.  Others seem to be hearing about a July 1st resignation date, which would make more sense given the start of a new fiscal year, but we have all heard these rumors before.  As always with Delaware education, we shall see…

Mark Murphy and the horrible, terrible, no good day

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

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…

Mark Murphy Appears Before House Education Committee To Answer Race To The Top Funding Questions

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

Right now, at Legislative Hall in Dover, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy is appearing before the Delaware House Education Committee to answer questions on the Race To The Top funding.  Prior to this, Murphy and the Delaware Department of Education presented the 2015-2016 education budget to the Joint Finance Committee.

Senator David Sokola is commenting to Mark Murphy about the Race To The Top funding and how the past four Governors in Delaware have been very generous to education.

House Representative Charles Potter is talking about Wilmington and feeder patterns, as well as the moratorium on charter schools on the not yet decided upon House Bill 29.

Mike Matthews just reported this on Facebook:

Looks like this education committee meeting, which is supposed to start at 4:30, may be starting late. DoE Sec. Mark Murphy is at present speaking to the Joint Finance Committee and I’m told he’s being GRILLED there. He’s asking to continue funding 10 high-paying DoE positions that were once paid for through RttT funds. Except now he wants them paid for out of the general fund. I’m being told legislators are having NONE OF THAT!

The meeting is finally started.  State Rep. Earl Jacques wants the DOE to come back on 3/11 to give final comments on the ESEA Flex Waivers.  It will be a 12 noon meeting.  David Blowman and Chris Ruszkowski from the DOE asked if they were buying lunch.  Tina Shockley, Karen Field Rogers, and Mary Kate McLoughlin are also in attendance from the DOE.  Murphy is still getting grilled by the JFC downstairs.  David Blowman is leading the presentation until then.

Four areas they want to go over 1) Rigor and curriculum, 2) developing highly qualified educators and supports, 3) Developing highly qualified teachers, 4) provide support for low-performing schools.

He brought up Booker T. and Howard High School as examples of where grant money can be effective.  The DOE values the free lunch program.  He’s talking about getting kids ready for college and all students can perform at the same levels.  They’ve taken the opportunity to listen to parents and community members about matters that concern them.  Even though RTTT funding is done, they’re work is not.

Karen Field-Rogers is explaining how RTTT came about and the focus of their “four pillars” (listed above).  She is explaining why Delaware was awarded RTTT funding first (along with Tennessee).  All the districts signed on to the funding.  The funds were based on the 2009 Title I Local Education Agency populations.  They had to follow the standards and assessment guidelines for the grant.  Early childhood programs, summer enrichment, after-school, data programs, educational support for access to data systems and much more were parts of the grant.  Teacher-leader positions were granted.  LEAs contracted for comprehensive reviews of low-performing schools.  The LEAs have spent $56 million since the start of RTTT.

DOE has spent $59.6 million dollars and most of the money went to support the work of the LEAs.  Sub-grants were granted to the LEAs and some funds went to oversight of the grant.

Data warehousing is updated nightly.  Data coaches provide supports for teachers and leaders.  Development coaches and more gave targeted supports.  Partnership Zone schools were implemented to give extra funding and supports to low-performing schools.  $44.8 million of the state share of RTTT funding has been spent.  $7.9 remains to be spent which has been already budgeted.

DE State Rep. Earl Jacques is asking how successful the partnership schools have been.  He is stating many parents don’t view them as successful.  Ruszkowski said they provided a lot of funding and support and provided data.  He is citing Howard and Positive Outcomes of schools that worked.  He asked about the summer enrichment programs and how they worked.  Field-Rogers stated it varied by district.

DE State Rep. Potter is asking about a correlation between the priority schools and after school programs.  They didn’t have that information.  DE State Rep. Kim Williams is commenting it was like “having a gun to their head” when she was on the Red Clay School Board in signing on to RTTT.  She brought up the comprehensive school review for the Christina priority schools (the DASL report) and how Murphy wouldn’t sign off on it.

She brought up Booker T. and why this school is compared to schools in the city.  She is talking about the demographics of the school.  In 2011 they became a Focus School due to being on an academic watch.  Booker T. got $700,000 to make things happen there.  She asked how 3rd and 4th grade can be cited as examples of success when each student received an extra $10,000 in funding.  Field-Rogers said the School Turnaround Unit will have to get back to her on that.  (Classic DOE response when they are asked tough questions).

Williams asked about the Early Learning Challenge.  Blowman said these are students in 3-5 who are labeled as struggling.  Williams asked why there is $8.5 million in unspecified funding.  McLoughlin said she will have to get back to them on this.  Williams asked how many employees are in the Teacher of the Year department.  Blowman said four.  Williams said the website states 25.  Ruszkowski said many were transferred during former Secretary Lillian Lowery’s term many were transferred to his department, the Teacher-Leader Effectiveness unit.  Williams asked about the Delaware Talent Cooperative and if it was effective.  Ruszkowski went over different funding formulas and where it went.  Williams said this type of money should be used in more meaningful ways.  Ruszkowski said teachers move from high-need schools to less need schools at a rate of 8-9 times higher than vice versa. (Does this include the TFA come and go program?)  Williams said so many teachers leave these schools because they do not receive the supports and resources they need.  They are going back and forth on this.  Williams is explaining how teachers love what they do but they are lacking the resources and no money is going towards poverty.

State Rep. Stephanie Bolden is asking about the resources given to the lowest achieving schools.  She saw a lack of community liasons taking place during RTTT.  She said she agrees with Williams that this isn’t working.  She taught for 35 years because she was able to gain trust from students and community members.  There is no follow-up and oversight and the money was just spent or reallocated with no follow-up.  She can’t understand why more money is being asked for when teachers can’t teach and discipline a class when they can’t stay in a class.  Ruszkowski said they oversaw that the districts and charters spent the money the way they were supposed to.  Ruszkowski said some districts didn’t spend the money the way they were supposed to.  Bolden wants to know about Wilmington schools.  He said Howard High School took full advantage of RTTT and retained the best teachers.  Howard was given more resources, which Bolden said answers her question.

State Rep. Debra Heffernan asked about the sub-grants and the priority schools.  McLoughlin said some of the RTTT funding went to the priority schools.  She said schools should have used the funds for short-term programs.  She asked if all school districts did that and why is DOE continuing with programs from this funding.

State Rep. Dukes said “There is so much money that is being kept by the DOE.”  He is not happy about this.  McLoughlin said this is all to benefit the teachers.  She said teachers did not know how to analyze that data and that was why data coaches were needed.  She said now that they are part of the districts they can utilize that information more effectively.  Ruszkowski said the US DOE asked the states to take on these roles.  He said the DOE is in a position of being able to save money each year because these things are currently in effect.  Dukes is very upset 50% was kept in the DOE Department and never got to the schools.  He said it is very frustrating.  He hopes in the end this is a long-lasting process otherwise we wasted $119 million.

Mark Murphy finally came up.  State Rep. Sean Matthews asked why certain Newcastle County charter schools got funds when the high-needs schoos didn’t with the Delaware Talent Cooperative.  He asked what school based bonuses were.  He said they were academic achievement awards.  He said this could have been transformative for our state but the funds weren’t spent wisely.  In hindsight a data warehouse or pipeline is not going to yield the results the state needs.  No one is talking about the true problems in these schools and maybe Delaware needs Federal oversight since the Delaware DOE is in over their heads.

State Rep. Sean Lynn asked how many teachers were asked to be in the DE Talent Cooperative and how many accepted.  Ruszkowski said there was one teacher who left the co-op program but never answered the direct question.

State Rep. Osienski said there is no shortage of teacher applications out there so why are we using all these programs? Ruszkowski said they went out to each institution like Wilmington University and University of Delaware to attract teachers.  Osienski asked if positions are being eliminated at DOE and why they are asking for ten new positions.  Blowman from the DOE said the Department is not asking for new positions, he said these are existing employees but they are asking for a shift in funding.  Osienski said there were positions being paid for by the Federal grant so he is confused.  Blowman said many of the positions were contracted by vendors.

State Rep. Miro asked if the DOE contracters were citizens of Delaware or did they come out of state?  He is asking if RTTT helped the recession in Delaware or not.  Blowman said he doesn’t want to speculate.  Miro asked the DOE to give this information to the House Education Committee.

Williams asked the DOE how many employees they have before RTTT and how many they have now.  They will have to get back to her.

Potter asked how much money they have left from RTTT.  McLoughlin said about $15 million.

State Rep. Osienski asked Mark Murphy what grade the DOE would give themselves on how they spent RTTT funds.  Murphy gave Delaware a B because the students aren’t where they want them to be with achievement.  This is a solid B because our districts have made very good use of this funding and built capacity.  As a state they have done the same they can maintain at a fraction of that cost.  There have been quality improvements.  Osienski asked if the districts can sustain this effort, and Murphy said the $7.5 million asked for in the State budget this can keep these programs going.  Osienski asked what would happen if the JFC cut this funding.  Murphy said there are technology systems to deal with district supports for Common Core they would not be able to sustain.  This could cause problems with funding for the lowest-performing schools and getting them funding.


Save The Date! Mark Murphy is Coming to Legislative Hall on February 18th at 3:30pm!

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

Committee Meeting Notice

Chamber: House
Committee: Education
Chairman: Jaques
Room: House Majority Hearing Room
Date/Time: 02/18/2015 03:30:00 PM

o Presentation from Secretary Murphy and the Delaware

Department of Education on the Race to the Top Initiative

Mark Murphy’s WHYY Interview…God, I Can’t Stand This Guy!

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

WDEL conducted an interview Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy recently.  My new favorite education report, Avi Wolfman-Arant, conducted the interview.  It covers Race To The Top, Priority Schools, Common Core, Smarter Balanced Assessment (and not a word about Parent Opt Out), Teacher Pay, and more.

You can view the video, or if you have a weak stomach, you can just read the article here:

Murphy needs to be fired.  He needs to go back to being a gym teacher somewhere at some lovey-dovey charter school.

Mark Murphy Sinks To New Lows At Priority Task Force, His Arrogance Is No “Myth”

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy


The Priority Schools Task Force had a meeting today. One would think it would be at one of the priority schools, but no, to rub salt in the festering wound, it was held at the Community Education Building in Wilmington. This is the building that is in a one-mile radius of the six priority schools. The building that has lots of room for charter schools. The only six priority schools in the state. Coincidence? Hardly. But I’m not going to discuss that today. My views on this are well known. No, I am going to talk about the Secretary of Education for Delaware, Mark Murphy. It’s a wonder anyone could fit in the room for the meeting with his big ego swallowing everything up.

According to Mike Matthews, who attended the meeting, the following exchange occurred between Murphy and Matthews:

At the meeting today I asked Sec. Murphy what specifically was wrong with the priority schools considering the evaluation done by his department, the University of Delaware, and the Delaware Association of School Leadership revealed that Stubbs and Bancroft are doing great things. The secretary could not answer my question, instead accusing me of engaging in a “tit-for-tat” by asking such a question. Sec. Murphy did reveal that his office is refusing to sign off on those reports. And then I blurted out “Yeah because you don’t like what those reports revealed!” He was not pleased.

What a jerk! I always knew Murphy was an oddball, but this is pure arrogance on his part. To have a review done of some of these schools, and have them come back with really great things, only to dismiss it like a Massett would dismiss an ACLU complaint, is the very definition of ________ (pick your own word, many have come to my mind since I read this). For those who had any doubt prior to this, the DOE, Murphy, and Markell have made up their mind. They made it up before September 4th. These schools will be charter schools in the very building where the task force meeting was. And Gateway has already been decided on as well. This is my theory of course, not based on actual fact, but a preponderance of evidence and actions.

In other odd news from the meeting, apparently Red Clay’s proposal to the Delaware DOE for the three priority schools in their district would have assistance from the University of Virginia for leadership assistance. No mention was made if there is any cost involved for this endeavor. Some feel this is exactly what these schools do not need, more outside consultants.

Mark Murphy Hanging Out With Obama Today @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @RCEAPrez @Apl_Jax @ecpaige @nannyfat @TNJ_malbright @Roof_O @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE #Delaware #edchat

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy is at the White House today for an event to support college readiness.  This isn’t a mutually exclusive thing, as hundreds of other comparable leaders from states and school districts were invited as well.  To be a fly on the wall though for any conversation between the President and Murphy.  The below is from the Delaware DOE News Page, courtesy of everyone’s favorite Alison May:

Delaware reinforces commitment to expand college access at White House event

Delaware Reinforces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy Manages To Discriminate Against 5 Different Groups In One Shot @CapeGazette @delawareonline @DoverPost @TheStateNews @NYTimes @washingtonpost @WSJ @ChicagoTribune @LATimes

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

I called for Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy’s ouster yesterday.  And that was before I even knew about his latest stunt.  At the Wilmington City Council meeting on Thursday night, Murphy had a flyer printed up to show reasons why the State of Delaware wanted to implement the Priority Schools initiative against the six Wilmington schools.  These schools are low income with heavy populations of African-Americans and students with disabilities.  I spoke at the Christina Board of Education meeting a couple weeks ago how the state’s programs have led to a bizarre type of triple segregation with these schools.  Murphy managed to top that with his comments about a school in the Indian River school district in Sussex County, Delaware.

In the flyer, entitled “Priority Schools: An Opportunity To Improve Our City’s Schools Together”, handed out to the public, part of it said the following:

A great Delaware example is Indian River’s Clayton Elementary, located in a rural area of Sussex County with many parents working for the poultry factories.  When Sharon Brittingham took over as principal in 1997, she found a staff that didn’t expect much of it’s low-income, black, Hispanic students.  The teachers commonly used the phrase, “You can’t make chicken salad from chicken shit.”  Brittingham found “teachers didn’t just need to believe in the ability of children to learn but also their ability to teach.”  She helped educators improve their instruction, providing high quality professional development with aid from the district and state.  She also added intensive intervention for struggling students.  And she found teachers needed help with inclusive classrooms, which include students with disabilities alongside their peers.  By the time she retired in 2006, her school was one of the top in the state with proficiency rates of 100 percent in some grades and subjects.  The school faltered a bit when some teachers did away with some of the changes she had put in place.  But the school now is doing well again after it’s current principal returned to some of Brittingham’s successful strategies.

So let’s see here, how many groups can you treat badly with discriminatory statements in one paragraph?  How about low-income, African-Americans, Hispanics, farmers and teachers.  Great job Murphy!  I’m sure this flyer really resonated with the folks up in Wilmington, but not in the way you expected.  It showed a DOE that is clueless about the realities these schools face, and showed their true colors.

Later on in the guide, it states the following hypocritical statement:

DOE has communicated the expectation to the participating districts that engagement of families and the community will be meaningful and genuine.

This one sentence is a summary of what the Delaware DOE has become, a manipulative back-stabbing entity that thrives on bullying school districts to do their bidding.  The DOE forced their Memorandum of Understanding on both Christina and Red Clay Consolidated School Districts, and aside from Governor Markell and Murphy’s impromptu press conference at Warner Elementary School, where the school districts first learned of the blitzkrieg plan, they have done nothing to try to bring the community and parents into their diabolical agenda.  In fact, Christina’s Board of Education chose to ignore the MOU so they could write their own to bring more stakeholders into it, including, you guessed it: families and the community.  If this flyer is any indication of how the Delaware DOE intends to engage with families and communities, someone might want to remind them this isn’t 1860.

Yesterday, Red Clay Education Association President Mike Matthews emailed both Markell and Murphy about how he and many other teachers were extremely offended by the flyer.  Apparently Murphy fanned the flames even more by sending a personal apology to Matthews and other union members, but not to the entire state in a public forum.  Murphy needs to go.  Period.

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy Needs To Be Fired! What Has To Happen! @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat @ecpaige @TNJ_malbright #netde #eduDE

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy


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.


What Was Secretary of Education Mark Murphy So Happy About? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in-De @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

I’ve reviewed the news conference Governor Jack Markell gave after the announcement about the Priority Schools (Takeover) in Red Clay Consolidated and Christina school districts.  Here is a link to the Delaware Online video of it:

At the 30 second mark, the camera shifts over to Secretary of Education Mark Murphy when Markell started talking about how the schools will be having “great school leaders.”  Murphy cannot contain some sort of jubilant feeling he is having.  It actually goes on for a couple seconds, but then it looks like he checks himself, as if he’s thinking “Oops, not appropriate here.”  I found this to be very odd behavior from a Secretary of Education during a press announcement that the state is essentially taking over six low-performing, low-income elementary schools.

A picture can tell a thousand words, but a video tells even more!  Things I am wondering now about Murphy are 1) What does he already know about potential leaders for the schools IF the state winds up taking them over, 2) What’s in it for him?  Some financial connection perhaps?, and 3) Is Mark Murphy right in the head?

In my opinion, this is just another chapter in the long book Markell and Murphy have written on their changes to education in Delaware.  But I truly hope this is where the story takes over and bites them in the ass!

Kilroy Asked Me What I Think Of Delaware Secretary Of Education Mark Murphy! Well… @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @BadassTeachersA @DelawareBats #netde #eduDE

Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy

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.