Whoa. We all had a pretty good idea that Markell’s ‘torch’ wanted to burn public education in Delaware to the ground.
Here, in this New York Magazine blog, Delaware’s former Secretary of Education verifies what we thought. All of this in his own words:
Imagine if the teachers’ union was a gatekeeper for quality teaching: “We, the union, care deeply about high-quality teachers and we are going to do everything we can to ensure we have high-quality teachers,” instead of, “We’re going to spend our time defending teachers who do bad things, and negotiating for better health benefits and salary.” I’m not saying those things are unimportant; I actually tried to pay teachers more money, but I wanted to link the money to their responsibilities and their performance. But the teachers’ union doesn’t even want to talk about how one teacher is a lot better than another.
Well, you tried to quantitatively evaluate teachers by the performance of the schools where they taught. Ignoring, of course, the obvious correlation between economic disadvantage, family stability, and school performance. But don’t let me interrupt.
I tried to change the funding system. I couldn’t get that done. I tried to change how teachers were paid. Couldn’t get that done. Tried to change how we dealt with the lowest-performing schools. Couldn’t get that done. 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.
Especially when you rely on the highly-paid bean counters in your own Department and ignore people who understand what actually goes on in schools.
You’ll have to read the entire piece to see how he completely distorts what happened with the Wilmington schools. But, he betrays the real motive for this screed in the final graf:
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. The people who, day in and day out, are running our government — these are not bad people. They show up to these jobs because they care, and they take pay cuts to do it, and nobody thanks them. Very rarely do you get thanks.
That may or may not be true. But if the implication is that ‘really great people’ include people like Mark Murphy, it’s not true. When you look at it, this piece is every bit as self-serving as Jack Markell’s vanity piece in the Atlantic. And just as full of the false choices that Markell posited, in Markell’s case that we ‘need jobs, not populism’. In Murphy’s case, it is, and I quote, ‘Imagine if the teachers’ union was a gatekeeper for quality teaching…instead of, ‘We’re going to spend our time defending teachers who do bad things, and negotiating for better health benefits and salary’. False choices–one more thing that Markell and Murphy have in common. Along with the disingenuous nature that these two condescending elitists share.