Mark Murphy Blames Teachers’ Union For His Failure to Totally Destroy Public Education in Delaware

Filed in Delaware, Education, Featured by on April 12, 2017

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.

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  1. Blackflyer says:

    Mark Murphy’s first lie is that before becoming Secretary of Education, he was a teacher and a principal. Wrong, he was a teacher and principal for less than 3 years in Maryland. Following his unsuccessful stint in a public school, he became executive director of Vision 2015. This is a lobbying organization connected to the Rodel Foundation. A shadowy and mysterious group from California. To date their only real contribution to Delaware was Murphy, and to say that it was a contribution, as if that were a positive thing, is mangling the truth. Mr. Murphy is a shill for the moneyed interests who believe that a good day is a test day, and that test companies deserve every nickel they extract from the Delaware taxpayer.
    Mr Murphy’s tone is laughable in the New York Magazine blog. He feels sorry for himself. The man who put out that teachers have no place in conversations about education. The man who proposed adding high pay administrators to the state’s tax roles. The man who doubled the teacing workload with his useless demands for “data”. The man who hired hundreds of useless techno nerds to “crunch Delaware’s education numbers” and never step into a classroom and deliver instruction. Murphy stated that state testing protocols have not revealed the teachers who should be fired because their local principals were misusing the performance appraisals incorrectly. By God, he was here to fire based solely on test scores and educational institutions were just not cooperating with his dimwitted plan. The man who set up a system of teacher accountability online that didn’t actually work, but demanded all use it anyway. Ugh. I could go on an on about this wretched man. And now he writes in New York Magazine that the State Union leaders were “compliant” with his calls for reform but the local union leaders would not abide the horseshit Murphy was peddling. Murphy is a piece of shit. He should never darken Delaware’s door again.

  2. Uh, that about says it all.

  3. SussexAnon says:

    Or his failures were caused by the fact he had no idea what he was doing.

    He was a fast tracker, 3 years in the class room, then hop up the ladder to the executive gravy train. Where you don’t work, you just kick around ideas. Then blame the actual workers for their failures. Like every other profession in America.

  4. JTF says:

    I rarely agree with El Som, but in this case, I do.

    This piece is really atrocious.

  5. John Kowalko says:

    Sad, misguided commentary from a sad misguided man. Clint Eastwood’s character (not necessarily known as a philosophy major) once said “A man’s got to know his limitations” Murphy’s a prime example of an inept education bureaucrat influenced by an inept organization (RODEL), marching to the beat of an equally (educationally) inept governor, reading from a poorly written script of an inept State Board of Education who failed to even sense his limitations let alone know them. Sad indeed.

    Representative John Kowalko

  6. Blackflyer says:

    Wow. Go John!!!

  7. puck says:

    It works for them that gets the money.

  8. John Young says:

    I lay it all at the hands of Jack for the choice and the rubber stamp loving senators who confirmed him with nary a serious question at his hearing, er, coronation.