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Murphy sworn in as Delaware Secretary of Education

Mark Murphy hit the ground running before his swearing in as Delaware’s Secretary of Education Friday morning. In the weeks leading up to his official start, he’s been around the John G. Townsend building in Dover meeting with stakeholders within and outside of the Delaware Department of Education.

Excerpts of DFM News interview with Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.

Excerpts of DFM News interview with Secretary of Education Mark Murphy.



Murphy is no stranger to the DDOE and the state’s education landscape as the former executive director of the nonprofit Vision Network, an organization that works with leadership in 26 Delaware schools. In his position at the Vision Network, Murphy has been involved in statewide conversations on education reform. He’s also talked to teachers and administrators about programs implemented this year as a part of federal Race to the Top education reform.

He added he has already been in meetings about Common Core Standards implementation and developing teacher evaluations. Both have been hot-button issues.

“The priority for me and the work that I prioritize with the department is the work that is most valuable to the success of our teachers and the other people who are closest to our children.  That is about taking a holistic look at everything we’re doing in the department and around the state and taking a real critical look and saying what is most impactful and what is most valuable to the people who are closest to our kids.”

In addition to other Department of Education staffers, Murphy has talked with school administrators, teachers, business leaders and parents. Over the next couple of weeks he said he will be meeting with each and every school superintendent in the state.

The end result, which Murphy called more of a long-term goal, is to build a “really strong system of schools.” He said he wants that system to also be sustainable and that “every one of children has an amazing school to go into each and every day.”

Murphy expanded on that during a speech following his swearing in. He said every child should be challenged in the classroom and safe in school. He also said that in addition to depending on support, the school community should also thrive on the pressure of accountability. He asked two things of the rest of his department and the state’s education stakeholders.

“I hope you will hold me accountable and I will hold you accountable,” he said. He also said he hoped everyone would “very concretely, every day, reflect on what you do and ‘how can I do better.’”

Prior to swearing Murphy into his cabinet, Gov. Jack Markell said he had found in Murphy the secretary he wanted.

“I was committed to finding a leader who had a teacher’s heart and a principal’s inclination,” Markell said. He added that while Delaware has been lauded by the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for making strides in education reform, there is a lot of work to be done.

Just this week, Duncan approved Delaware’s application for a waiver on some facets of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also know as the No Child Left Behind Act). Delaware officials, including Murphy, said this waiver will allow education reform accountability and support to evolve. More specifically the waiver eliminates mandated school improvement, and corrective action or restructuring for not meeting 100 percent student proficiency on standardized tests by next school year. Schools and districts may also refocus some funding, including money for choice and supplemental education services.