In the ongoing battle between Governor Markell and his Secretary of Education Mark Murphy with the Christina and Red Clay Consolidated School Districts over the 6 “priority schools”, an Op Ed surfaced on delawareonline.com last weekend written by Secretary Murphy. The synopsis is that he and the Department of Education know exactly what’s needed to turn around the 6 ‘priority’ schools without sharing very many details other than the provision of throwing $6 million at the schools over 4 years (with $160,000k/year earmarked for new principals at each school) to help pay for whatever they have in mind.
Without going through the entire Op Ed, let me just say this. The Christina community, administration and Board of Education have been working tirelessly to create plans for all 3 of our “priority” schools. Emphasis on Christina community (which includes parents, teachers, building leaders, citizens, etc). The plan isn’t done yet, but it’s closer now than it was 2 months ago. All we’re hearing out of Dover is barking about meeting the arbitrary January 7 deadline to have the final plan submitted for review. There haven’t been any constructive contributions from DOE, the Secretary or the Governor all of whom have been repeatedly asked to participate in the development of the plans for Stubbs, Bancroft and Bayard. If you say you want to help then decline each opportunity to do so, are you sure you actually want to help?
In other news, last night Red Clay’s Board voted 6-1 to approve DOE’s MOU before actually having a plan for their “priority” schools in place, and before actually engaging their residents, teachers, parents, or anyone else. That seems backwards to me. Contrast with what Christina is doing before accepting the MOU: bringing parents, teachers, principals, district administration, citizens and the Board of Education together to develop plans for each school, and really focusing on finalizing the plan and then submitting it to DOE for review and future collaborative efforts. Plans are coming together, but Dover is hammering on the January 7th deadline for having the plans submitted. The CSD Board of Education is of the opinion that we should take our time to make sure we prepare absolute best of the best for these school turnaround plan and if that means we go past January 7th, so be it. The kids deserve it.
What I’m getting out of this as a resident of the Christina School District with 2 kids currently in the district and as someone who serves on Christina’s CBOC is DOE, Governor Markell and Secretary Murphy want you to agree to their nonspecific terms before they’re willing to engage and participate. Should we all be working together? Yes. If you agree to someone’s ultimatum before getting to work, are you really working together? I don’t typically sign a contract until I know exactly what’s written in it and I’m not sure why Dover is asking our district to do just that.
So what is DOE’s priority here? Working with the districts and communities to do what’s best for these kids? Or just getting the districts to agree and go along with what they have in mind?