Friday, September 2, 2011

Et Tu, AJ Duffy?

One of least endearing OCD habits I have is as soon as a wake up I reach over to the night stand and grab my iPhone and check all my email. Yesterday, when I awoke at 10 AM I checked my phone and saw that I had email from a groupie. The email saddened me. AJ Duffy, former president of the UTLA, having left office in July, is planning on opening up a charter school.

I feel not only surprised, but hurt as well. In fact worse than hurt, more like stabbed in the back. It was just over a year ago when in light of Jason Felch and the Los Angeles Times exposing teachers Value Added Assessment data that I wrote extensively about, but a teacher, Rigoberto Ruelas killing himself because Jason Felch deemed him an ineffective teacher. I even reached out to the UTLA and asked for AJ Duffy, which he graciously and unconditionally accepted, to appear on my Internet radio show.

So it seems that AJ, who was quite vociferous in railing against the Los Angeles Times and its use of VAA, but seemed to genuinely wanted to fight for his teachers as opposed to Randi Weingarten, has now pulled a Randi Weingarten. He is sleeping with the enemy.

Like Randi, he is now an opportunist, a person who sees not only dollar signs, but the power he can have, and perhaps never truly had.

Duffy wishes to make it harder for teachers to earn tenure protections and wants to lengthen that process. He even wants to require teachers to demonstrate that they remain effective in the classroom if they want to keep their tenure protections.

Why is this now the way Duffy wishes to go? Why, the change of heart? Why not put his money where his mouth was and show that a school, that is unionized, that treats its teachers with respect and dignity can succeed?

And if a tenured teacher becomes ineffective, he wants to streamline dismissals. The process now in place can stretch out for several years, even with substantial evidence of gross misconduct. Some union leaders, notably Duffy, have defended this "due process" as a necessary protection against administrative abuses.

Again, let's go back to that old argument. What makes a teacher effective or ineffective? Will Duffy now accept the use of VAA's? Will Duffy have in place measures to stop administrative abuses? The hypocrisy is quite explicit here. How can someone who has spent the last six years fighting for the rights of educators do a 180 and now be against teachers?

"I would make it 10 days if I could," Duffy now says of the length of the dismissal process.

If ever a statement deserved a face palm, this is it.

Duffy had a chance, a great chance to join the ranks of those out there who are opposed to the obscene measures being put on students, parents, and educators by the deform movement. He could have lent a credible voice, a supportive voice to those who are fighting tooth and nail at has become a system that is not serving its neediest children, but rather a system of education that one sees as a place to make a dollar.

Instead he has chosen a path that will, at least he thinks, bestow power, money, and what he considers prestige. Greed, it seems to Duffy, is good. Fighting the good fight, struggling, is bad.

How can Duffy look himself in the mirror and see what he likes? How can he when everything he has fought for, everything he has stood for is now all just moot? Duffy is no more than just a politician. His, and only his, best interests at heart. The families and students of Los Angeles as well as the teachers have just been told by Duffy to F*** Off! So has the rest of America. Shame on you AJ Duffy


Anonymous said...

Hey - am I the "groupie"?
Your bff
Bill Grundfest

Pete Zucker said...

Sorry to disappoint you Bill, but I knew about this before you sent me the email.

ed notes online said...

Duffy joins the ex Wash DC pres who went to work for Michelle Rhee. Watch them all fall over to the ed deform camp which they were in all along.

zulma said...

Where there's money, power and greed, you will find all the traitors.

It would seem that money is getting in the way of fighting for what's right, standing up for ethical beliefs, and sticking to morality.

Who's the next union leader to take the path of capitalism?

Anonymous said...

Several UTLA teachers started unionized charter schools in the past few years. What is wrong with that? Charter schools are an invention of the AFT.

Duffy doesn't want to get rid of due process. He wants to streamline it. Why should the tax payers continue to pay bad teachers longer than 10 days?

AJ Duffy said...

What you are about to read is my account to clarify the facts surrounding my move to become Executive Director of Apple Academy Charter Public Schools (Apple Academy teachers will be union members).

I have no problem with people criticizing me. I have a thick skin. My problem lies with the misperception people have formed based upon misinformation and innuendo.

If after you read this piece you still disagree with me, that’s all right. We can agree to disagree, but at least you will have heard the real story and facts surrounding my move to run a unionized charter school.

I wish people would check the facts before they misinform others. I want Apple Academy Charter Public School teachers to have something, most if any charter school teachers don't have--tenure. Yes, teachers will have to recertify every few years, but each time they recertify they get more tenure added on in years. That together with quality professional development will give Apple Academy Charter Public School teachers the environment to be involved in a process of constant improvement and honing of their skills. I want Apple Academy Charter Public School teachers to have something charter school teachers don't have--binding arbitration as a final step in a grievance process. And yes, the arbitration process should be expedited. From start to finish it should be fair but quick. No more than 20 days not 10 as reported. My mother once told me to believe half of what you hear and a quarter of what you read. A concept we should all live by; especially those that report the news. I want Apple Academy Charter Public School teachers to have a central role in their school--to create their evaluation system (not based upon standardized test scores), PAR programs, teacher driven lessons and curriculum, and the ability to have a central role in other areas of school decision making. In short, I want to re-professionalize the teaching profession by building a model at Apple Academy Charter Public Schools that will represent all the aspirations of the creator of the concept of charter schools, Albert Shanker, who envisioned for education student centered teacher driven schools. I want to bring to your attention that the teachers were union members at the disbanded Crescendo Charters. The schools were closed because the teachers refused to cheat on state standardized tests as directed by their Executive Director and 4 of the 6 principals. They will continue to be union teachers supported by their local union and paying dues.

I believe unionizing charter school teachers is the wave of the future. Charter school teachers deserve representation, and like the rest of us, they crave a central role in school decision making. Being involved at Apple Academy Charter Public Schools will be my attempt along with my board of directors and the dedicated teachers who are working side-by-side with us, to create a model to show the world that charter organizations and their teachers can work with progressive management to create world class education for students.

Is there something wrong with that?

-AJ Duffy

Anonymous said...

Ex-president Duffy,

When you were president of UTLA you couldn't be bothered to fight against the reconstitution at Fremont High and Huntington Park High. If that's an example of how much you care about teachers, then the teachers who are pawns at your Apple Academy Charter Public School will be in for a world of hurt.

You sold out long ago. Don't try to reinvent yourself as some sort of educational savior. Go off and enjoy the blood money you got from LAUSD and stop looking for more.

Anonymous said...

As a member of UTLA's policy-making body, ANYONE who thinks about working for A.J. Duffy (and the former LAUSD bureaucrat Judy Burton) needs to be wary. Duffy regularly signed side letters with LAUSD that are only now coming to light - and the District is pulling them out like aces from their sleeves. All of these items should have been reviewed by the elected policy-makers, but they never were.
Also, that "job" he says he "loves"? The only reason he took the job was that he was prohibited from doing the charter thing for a year. Because he never got a CLAD credential (which is required to work with limited-English students) he didn't fill an opening - he bounced another teacher (who was part of a team) out. Sure, he had the right to do this, but that doesn't make it right - especially when he *knows* that he's there for only a year.