Delaware Governor Jack Markell has announced that the state’s education secretary, who has been under constant criticism by the state teachers union and lawmakers as a result of his ideas for reform, will step down later this year.
Education Secretary Mark Murphy said his resignation was not requested by Markell and was not a result of a no-confidence vote earlier this year by the representative assembly of the Delaware State Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.
According to the teachers union, a number of reasons resulted in the vote, including changes made to the teacher evaluation system without considering the opinions of educators, as well as the “labeling” of traditional public schools based only on test scores, writes Randall Chase for The Washington Post.
Markell spoke highly of Murphy’s efforts to improve upon the public education system in Delaware, which has resulted in record-high graduation rates, an increase in college enrollment, and the expansion of career training programs for high school seniors. He went on to say that Murphy had been at the head of the implementation of higher academic standards, including the controversial Common Core standards. “There’s a lot of progress to point to … a lot of tremendous progress,” Markell said.
“The work to prepare all of our students for college, career, and life in today’s changing world is incredibly rewarding, but it’s also not easy,” Markell said. “Mark has addressed every challenge with a remarkable determination to support the hard work happening in our schools and find solutions that best serve our youth. We have made tremendous strides in the past few years, while laying the groundwork for more progress in our never-ending mission to ensure every Delaware child receives the best possible education. I am thankful for Mark’s service to our state.”
Officials added that Murphy has been instrumental in the improvement of educator preparation programs across Delaware to ensure new teachers enter the workforce with the skills and experience necessary to succeed. In addition, he has improved upon the state’s charter school law to improve upon school accountability and support.
Murphy said he is still considering “a number of opportunities” but has not said anything as to whether any of the positions are within the state Department of Education. “I’ll keep you guys updated in the weeks ahead,” he said.
Former superintendent of the New Castle County Vo-Tech School District, Steven Godowsky, has been nominated by Markell to replace Murphy. Markell is expected to submit his nomination to the state senate during a special session on October 28. Until that time, Godowsky will act as the interim education secretary.