Mutiny At Odyssey As Teachers Union Votes For No Confidence In Board of Directors

The Odyssey Charter School Education Association declared a vote of no confidence in the school’s Board of Directors.  As well, they asked four members of the board to resign. Continue reading

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15 Who Made An Impact In 2015: Mike Matthews, Jackie Kook, and Mike Kempski

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In March, the Red Clay and Christina Education Associations passed a resolution announcing a vote of no confidence in Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, the Delaware Department of Education and the Delaware State Board of Education.  The resolution, announced at a press conference on March 12th, 2015, was widely cheered as a strong statement against the education policies and agendas of both the DOE and Governor Markell.

Their resolution was the first of a series of blows against the Department and Murphy in response to the DOE’s atrocious handling of the six priority schools in Wilmington.  Teachers in the two districts had enough with the standardized testing parts of their teacher evaluations.  RCEA and CEA, led by the Mikes, Matthews and Kempski, with support from CEA Vice-President Jackie Kook, brought the resolution up for a vote to their union members.  In addition, both educator associations supported the opt-out legislation, House Bill 50.  Over the coming months after their announcement, both the Delaware State Education Association and the Delaware Association of School Administrators echoed their calls of no confidence in Mark Murphy.

As 2015 draws to a close, we can’t forget the impact these three had on education this year.  House Bill 50 passed the House and Senate.  Mark Murphy is gone.  The new Every Student Succeeds Act calls for an elimination of standardized test scores as part of teacher evaluations.  In a very big way, the two largest districts in our state received the most press this year, in large part due to the Wilmington redistricting plan.

Christina had a very rough year.  It started off with the priority schools debacle which led to a memorandum of understanding with the DOE to grant the district a second planning year in response to the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee’s recommendations.  After that, they lost two referendums which caused a reduction in work force of 99 educators.  Dr. Freeman Williams, the Superintendent for the district, went on leave in August.  Their board narrowly passed a vote to bring in Bob Andrzejewski as the Acting Superintendent a few months ago.  Budget forecasts for the district look ominous as the district faces a third referendum attempt this year.  The redistricting effort in Wilmington, now awaiting a vote by the State Board of Education in January, will certainly change the makeup of the district if passed.

Meanwhile, Red Clay passed their referendum, but not without consequences.  A lawsuit filed by a family in the district in regards to operating procedures for the referendum could change the entire referendum landscape in Delaware.  While Christina received an extra year of planning for priority schools, Red Clay moved forward but not without severe issues with promised funding from the DOE.  New feeder patters led to a series of issues at Skyline Middle School as new students coming to the school literally changed the school culture of the building, resulting in a huge rise in bullying incidents.  The district’s inclusion initiative is now the hotbed issue in the district due to a severe lack of resources and staff to handle the complex and intensive needs of many of the students with disabilities.

Matthews, Kempski, and Kook will certainly have their hands full in 2016.  But as three of the strongest leaders not only in their district, but in the entire state, all three will be front and center in the debates and conversations surrounding education in Delaware.

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…

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

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