15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Mark Murphy

murphyaaaah

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.

DOE’s Own Accountability Framework Working Group Slams Regulation 103 At State Board of Education Meeting

At the State Board of Education meeting today, it was a packed house as several public comments were given in opposition to Regulation 103.  The Delaware State Educators Association slammed it, the Red Clay Educators Association slammed it, Delaware PTA slammed it, I slammed it, and parents slammed it.  One parent slammed DOE’s Smarter Balanced Assessment and their obsession with proficiency.  In my public comment, I advised the DOE and State Board of Education of the state and federal complaints I filed against them in the last week.  I could have gone on, but the clock ran out. State Rep. John Kowalko lambasted the State Board of Education on their regulatory practices when the General Assembly is not in session and vowed to fight DOE and the State Board on these matters.

One parent was denied the chance to speak.  Because of the huge crowd, and a regulation stating you must sign up for public comment 15 minutes prior to the meeting, several people were told they couldn’t speak.  Board President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray did give one last chance to sign up for public comment, but the sign-up sheet was at the Board table, not in the hallway like it usually is (even way after the 15 minute “regulation” mark).  After all the comments ended, I advised Dr. Gray there was one more speaker who didn’t hear her “last chance” comment.  Dr. Gray refused to let the parent give public comment.  This parent is going to be sending me her public comment today and I will post it on here.

The ParentStrike press conference went well.  NBC Philadelphia and reporter Tim Furlong were there, and will be airing a segment during their 5pm broadcast.  The News Journal, Dover Post, and others were in attendance between the Press Conference and the State Board meeting as well.   I spoke, as did Rep. Kowalko, State Senator Dave Lawson, and RCEA President Mike Matthews.  I had to leave the State Board of Education early to pick my son up from school, but I will be getting updates on their discussion of Regulation 103 and the Smarter Balanced Assessment results for all the sub-groups.

Any goodwill the Delaware DOE had is quickly evaporating as no one seems to be taking their side anymore.  The House of Cards has collapsed, but I did wish departing Secretary of Education Mark Murphy good luck in his future endeavors, as did others.  He was given a gift by the State Board so he could “write it all down”, which if I had to guess would be a future book???? Please don’t call it “Murphy’s Law” Mark…that would be too much…

Oh yeah, what about the Accountability Framework Working Group, otherwise known as AFWG?  Apparently, the notes from their meetings I published a few weeks ago, did not show the true story about what went on during these meetings.  It wasn’t all harmony and agreement like the minutes suggest.  DSEA member of the group, Deb Stevens, gave public comment.  She spoke as the representative for all of the non-DOE members of the group.  She indicated that this coalition from the AFWG wants the State Board of Education to defer a ruling on this until it can be flushed out even further and does not believe it is a final product at all and needs a lot of work.

I did find out former US DOE employee Deborah Delisle apparently sent a letter to the Delaware DOE indicating the participation rate MUST be used on the ESEA mandated school report card as a “consequence”, although there is nothing on the US DOE or Delaware DOE website with this letter or language.  I just emailed Penny Schwinn for a copy of this letter.  Even if it is in there, it is not regulation and the Delaware DOE is in way obligated to enforce a simple warning.

Vast Majority Of Delaware School Administrators Have No Confidence In Delaware DOE

 “We believe this lack of confidence is due to a failure to engage the education community in a shared decision-making process and the failure of the leadership of the Department to implement reform without creating trust.” -Kevin Carson, Executive Director of the Delaware Association of School Administrators (DASA)

In a Delaware News Journal article published last night, nine out of ten Delaware school administrators that voted on a survey showed no confidence in the Delaware Department of Education.  They join the Delaware State Educators Association and their local chapters in the Christina and Red Clay school districts, the Delaware PTA in regards to the Smarter Balanced Assessment, several legislators, and several parents in the state.

The DOE responded to the survey in a statement by their spokeswoman, Alison May:

“If we had to choose between making extraordinary progress together and avoiding controversy, we would choose progress for our students every time.”

It is the very nature of this progress that is the rudimentary question these days.  Many folks in Delaware do not see standardized assessments as a true measure of progress for students.  With the roll-out of Smarter Balanced this year, this feeling has only intensified as the test has not been validated nor does it offer an actual growth model.

As well, the DOE seems to thrive on controversy these days and are not engaging in true stakeholder input.  Perhaps they are just putting on a tin shell to defend themselves from all the potshots that are lobbed their way with statements like these, but it certainly doesn’t help their cause.

Another strong indictment against the DOE by DASA is the fact that the DOE has “flawed systems for evaluating teachers and schools and has stumbled to find a better way to pay educators,” according to the article written by Matthew Albright.

Relations between the DOE and the most essential stakeholders in the state have deteriorated to an all-time low.   When the most important groups in education have NO confidence in the rigorous work you are doing, at what point do the light bulbs finally turn on?  Will the entire state have to endure Secretary Mark Murphy until Governor Markell leaves office?

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

Lavelle & Sokola Face Off While Markell Explodes

Word around the town is Delaware Senators Greg Lavelle and David Sokola exchanged words at that New Castle school district meeting yesterday.  It’s beginning to look like the WEAC recommendations have ruffled a lot of feathers lately.  And the power struggles begin anew in the 148th General Assembly.  My little birds are also telling me about another power grab occurring in our state between two sides.  One team is feeding right into the hands of the other team who are just sitting back and watching it happen.

Meanwhile, our Common Core Smarter Balanced loving Governor was very angry about the RCEA and CEA press conference on Thursday night.  Education has been his baby and someone snatched that baby. Even though he stole the baby from its original owners, he didn’t like the snatch back.  This is after an already bad week for Jack when he was forced to use the words “opt out”.  As well, he had to hear all the talk about his latest whipping boy and his very stupid comments about parents and students.

We have a lame-duck trying to quack, but nobody is liking the noise.  The cracks in the foundation are getting bigger and bigger, and it is all about to crumble.  Just go to Delawareonline’s Facebook page and look at the recent comments concerning education.  Aside from the Delaware DOE employee and a couple other strays (like one person who was in charge of a human capital project), most of the commenters are well aware of what is going on.

Delaware Parents & Teachers Public Comment at RCEA & CEA Press Conference Last Night

As anyone knows, I’m not really a group joiner!  But I am proud to be one of the founding members of the grassroots organization called Delaware Parents & Teachers for Public Education.  Last night, another founding member named Eve Buckley attended the RCEA & CEA press conference at Warner Elementary School where the local educator associations announced their resolution of no confidence in the DOE, Mark Murphy and the State Board of Education.  Here are the comments Eve gave:

 

Watch CEA & RCEA Press Conference Declaring No Confidence In Mark Murphy, DOE & State Board of Education

Red Clay & Christina Educators Association Announce Resolution of No Confidence in Mark Murphy, DOE & State Board, Demand Public Election of State Board

At Warner Elementary School in Wilmington this evening, representatives from both the Red Clay Consolidated and Christina Educators Association announced a recently passed resolution stating they have no confidence in Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, the Delaware Department of Education, and the Delaware State Board of Education.   The full document can be read here:

The RCEA and CEA collectively represent over 2,500 educators in the State of Delaware, as the two largest school districts in the state.  Both districts were involved in the priority schools initiative and educators were faced with a no-win situation for many months starting last September.  Members no longer have faith in the state educational leaders to effectively provide supports for their schools and are demanding change from state legislators.

Many have felt for years the DOE has acted unilaterally without true stakeholder input from educators, parents, and schools.  It is only after they make changes that they reach out.  The resolution also states the DOE spent millions of dollars to beef up their own internal positions and as a result, students lost funding, resources and support, especially in our state’s highest needs schools.