Mark Murphy Spews Sour Grapes About His Time As Delaware Secretary of Education

Do you want some cheese with that wine Mark Murphy?  That is the thrust of an online article from The Job in which Mark Murphy laments his time as the Delaware Secretary of Education.  Murphy gets it wrong on so many levels it isn’t even funny.

Frankly, kids’ interests and adults’ interests don’t always align. Kids have no power, no say, no decision-making authority, no money — so nobody has a real reason to listen to kids. Go shadow a high-school kid for a day — good luck staying awake. You have to walk from class to class, with four minutes between each bell. You have to raise your hand to go to the bathroom. It is so disempowering and so boring.

Yes, he did use the word boring.  Because we are desperately clamoring for high school students to do whatever they want in school.  I’m terribly sorry Murphy had to exercise so much while shadowing a high school kid.  He did always seem fit.  Perhaps that is why.  Let’s be very clear on something.  Teenagers are trying to figure out who they are.  They are going through puberty.  I’m not saying their voice isn’t important, but adults often need to be the ones to make decisions for students.  It isn’t because they are on a power trip, it is because they went through their teenage years and entered adulthood (well, most of them did).  They went through it and came out on the other side and know what works and what doesn’t.  But then a bunch of billionaires got together and decided they knew what was best for education.  They used students and parents in their quest to get rid of teacher unions.  That is whose side you were always on.

What would happen is, I would feel like I had reached an agreement with the union leadership, but then they came back a month or two later and that wasn’t how their membership felt. I should have spent more time meeting with local leadership. In hindsight, I would have done that differently.

Yes Mark, you should have.  It sounds to me like the union leadership wasn’t also aware of what was happening at the ground level either or perhaps they were just placating you.  The union leadership should reach out to their membership before making agreements on their behalf.  If that is how it went down.

Each time you try to turn around a school, or you open or close a charter school, or disagree with the union, you punch another hole in the bucket and you start to drain out. You lose some political capital. Eventually, you’re out of water.

Mark, you became the Delaware Secretary of Education at the worst possible time in Delaware.  Post Race to the Top and knee-deep in Markell’s very bad education policies.  We are seeing a lot of those policies reversed throughout the country.  Being a leader is allowing yourself to stand up to the criticism and not letting it get to you.  If you ran out of water that’s because you kept listening to the same people over and over again and were not willing to hear what was happening at the grass-roots level.

If every kid had access to a middle-class lifestyle, the country would be a much better place, and people wouldn’t be so angry about all the immigrants.

The two don’t really intersect Mark.  I know the goal is for every kid to be the same, but good luck with that.  The bad education policies you pushed on Delaware at the behest of your education totalitarian boss, Jack Markell, failed because they did not look at the individual, only the collective.  Not sure where your immigration comment comes in.

I am really nervous that really great people are going to stop being willing to pursue public office because you get publicly and professionally assassinated in these jobs.

Does this mean you see yourself as “really great people” Mark?  Since I became involved in Delaware public education a few years ago, I have seen three Delaware Secretaries of Education: yourself, Dr. Steven Godowsky, and Dr. Susan Bunting.  Both Godowsky and Bunting treated me with respect although we do not always agree on policy.  When you were around, you didn’t give me the time of day.  You treated opt out parents as if they were somehow beneath you and should be squashed like a bug.  You didn’t even mention the Rodel Foundation in this article, but you listened to them far more than any educator, student, or parent.  The priority schools initiative was the death knell of your time as the Delaware Secretary.  The whole thing was a Delaware Dept. of Education public relations nightmare from the onset.  It was shoddily planned and I would have to think you knew that.

If you’re a teacher in one of these schools, the new principal who comes into the school should decide whether you stay or whether you don’t stay. The teachers’ union was quite upset about that.

Of course they would be upset about it because the whole basis for this was standardized test scores.  It failed to address issues such as trauma, special education, segregation, and the individual student.  Who wants some corporate education reform Principal hand-picked by the Delaware DOE to come in and can a ton of teachers over Smarter Balanced scores?  That’s why parents and citizens also objected to this plan.  The biggest failure was your inability to predict the severity of the public backlash for this.  I have to think you felt so empowered at the height of the corporate education reform movement that you felt infallible.  No human being is infallible.

In retrospect Mark, this sounds like sour grapes on your part.  You cast far too much blame on others while failing to address your own failures in your term.  Playing around with the priority schools funding was the final straw.  You can’t make promises and then back away from them.  I’m not sure why you blame the unions for all that is wrong with public education.  I know that is the corporate education reform mantra, but perhaps you should think of your own future and get off the shame and blame bus.

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Is Mark Murphy Selling Skateboard Paraphernalia?

I was very confused when I saw the latest Mark Murphy update.  Apparently, he is selling Griptape.  When I did a Google search on Griptape, it shows many different kinds of images for the adhesive put on skateboards for a sturdier ride.

What in the world?  Does he have his own skateboard?  Nope.  Apparently, the ex Secretary of Education from Delaware is still with America Achieves, but he is now leading an initiative called “Griptape”.  I did some deep dives into more information on this youth empowerment magic, but I couldn’t find anything.  I guess if students put some extra grip on their studies, they will have a sturdier ride to college and career readiness?  Will Griptape be something like that Mark?  Please, tell us.  We are dying to know more about Griptape!

But I did find out Mark Murphy visited one of my old stomping grounds a few months ago, which just so happens to be one of the skateboarding empires of the world, San Diego.  He went out in March to a Deeper Learning convention.  The San Diego Convention Center is awesome by the way.  If you go up the road, to the Gaslamp Quarter, there is an awesome bar called Dick’s Last Resort.  If someone working there isn’t rude to you, they aren’t doing their job.  Seriously!  But this convention wasn’t held at the San Diego Convention Center.  It was at High Tech High Graduate School Of Education (really, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried).

As well, even though he is no longer a chief, that doesn’t stop him from being listed as a member of Chiefs For Change, one of those offshoots of Jeb Bush’s Excellence In Education outfit.  But he better watch out, cause nipping to become a Chief for Change is one of his former, now ex Delaware DOE employees, who is listed as a Chief In Residence.  And even though that person is no longer in Delaware, his rot still lingers

A few weeks ago, Murphy and many of the other Chiefs at the Jeb cabal, like Hanna Skandera (New Mexico Secretary of Education) and John White (Louisiana’s Superintendent of Education), wrote a letter regarding the recent Vergara appeal decision, urging the appeals court to overturn their ruling because teachers in California are “grossly ineffective” (a term that pretty much sums up his tenure as Secretary of Education in Delaware).

So for those who were clamoring for Mark Murphy updates, this is it.  I couldn’t find anything more on him.  But if you miss him that much,  I would be remiss if I didn’t give a link to Murphy’s Greatest Hits.  He may not be causing direct trouble in Delaware, but it looks like he is one to watch out for at a national level, especially if Griptape takes off!  Maybe even Jack Markell will buy stock in it!

15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Mark Murphy

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Aside from Governor Markell, the most talked about name in education in 2015 was Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.  When he took over the position from Lillian Lowery in 2012, there was skepticism.  For three years, we watched Murphy and his minions at the Delaware Department of Education disengage with their stakeholders: teachers, administrators, parents, and students.

After the priority school controversy came to a head in the Christina School District, the opt-out movement in Delaware began to rise.  It was around this time that both the Red Clay and Christina Education Associations had a press conference announcing a vote of no-confidence in Mark Murphy.  Not long after, both the Delaware State Education Association and the Delaware Association of School Administrators announced the same verdict.

When House Bill 50, the opt-out legislation, became a huge topic of conversation, Murphy publicly stated on the Larry Mendte hosted The Delaware Way that parents were not allowed to opt their children out of standardized testing.  I remember after the debate at the Senate Education Committee, a participant who had never seen Murphy before and was not involved in Delaware education, asked me if Murphy was alright, if there was something wrong with him.

In the early part of the summer, it was revealed the Red Clay Consolidated School District was not getting their promised funding for their three priority schools.  As rumors go, this was the final nail in his secretarial coffin.  By the middle of the summer, Murphy announced he was “retiring”.  No reason was given, just that Murphy was going to pursue other opportunities.  Meanwhile, his LinkedIn account still shows him as the Delaware Secretary of Education.  The Race To The Top was over, and so was Mark Murphy.