SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: My Open Response To AJ Duffy's Response

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Open Response To AJ Duffy's Response

Last night I noticed that AJ Duffy, former president of the UTLA and now current charter school management organization front man, left a comment on the posting I wrote on September 2, "Et Tu, AJ Duffy?" The crack team wishes to thank AJ for taking the time to respond so politely and succinctly. However, I still have some opinions about what he wrote. What did you expect, me to keep my mouth shut?

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). 

Fact clarifying is good. One thing troubles me. And I might be wrong. All I have for Apple Academy is a blog page. No website, no further information. Is Apple Academy new? I want more information.

One thing I do have a problem with is Apple using the word public. Please, as there is no "i" in team, there is no public in charter schools. But AJ, since you insist on calling it public, than full disclosure should be in order. How much are you going to be paid? Who approached whom first about the position? When was the first contacts made? Before your term ended, or after? What is the length of the contract? 

I want Apple Academy Charter Public School teachers to have something, most if any charter school teachers don't have--tenure.

Got no problem with that.

Yes, teachers will have to recertify every few years, but each time they recertify they get more tenure added on in years.

Recertify? Exactly what does that mean? More tenure added onto teachers? Sounds like Scientology to me. Perhaps some teachers will reach OT, oops, I meant, Tenure Level 1, then 2, then so on....? Would this not pit teacher vs teacher? What happens if teachers don't go for this in negotiations? Also, who decides which union will represent these teachers? Will you be OK with UTLA? Seems as if you are not only the executive director for the teachers, but the negotiator, and union rep as well. What would you do if teachers want to attain tenure through traditional means?

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.

Quality professional development? Please define. No, not quality, but professional development. At least here in NYC, PD is now few and far between. What with budget cuts, extended day, and apathy and hypocrisy at Tweed.

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.

Binding arbitration? So that means that a teacher, if he or she truly feels they were wronged, will not be able to pursue the case in civil court? Is that not a right teachers, and all workers should have? Where do these arbitrators come from? Who pays for them? Again, if teachers fail to agree to this and want the traditional grievance process, will you accept this?

Now this is just for contract grievances? If a teacher wins in arbitration, what will compel you to comply with the arbitrator's decision? Will teachers be allowed to grieve letters in their file for passing gas in the non proscribed manner?

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.

I guess I was incorrect. So 20 days instead of 10? Why not 19? Or 18? Or 21? Do we as a county demand that criminal cases be completed in a certain amount of time? Of course not. However long as it takes to present the evidence, that should be how long it takes to finish an arbitration hearing. M'kay?

What will make it fair and quick? Describe please.

 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.

No problem with that. Furthermore, how about no administrators in these schools. But to get back to the levels of tenure, this still seems that some teachers will be more equal than other teachers.

I want to re-professionalize the teaching profession by building a model at Apple Academy Charter Public Schools

Re-professionalize? In my opinion not one single teacher has de-professionalized teaching. It is the media, the politicians, the hedge fund mangers, the billionaires, Michelle Rhee, TFA, etc... The list can go on and on forever.

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. 

So you can guarantee that any teacher will not be written up, charged with infractions, etc... if that teacher speaks up when something wrong is being done? That teacher will never face retaliation? 

I believe unionizing charter school teachers is the wave of the future. 

I disagree. Within ten years the hedge fund managers, the billionaires, the foundations will be bored and not making enough money with education and move onto bigger and more lucrative things (Healthcare, the military, or prisons in my opinion). The whole charter movement needs to be changed. Torn down. Rebuilt with zero public monies. YOu mention Albert Shanker's hopes for charters. He is rolling over in his grave now at what his vision was. He never envisioned the $$$$, all to make some rich, white people satisfy their white liberal guilt and to have the tax write-offs. Oh, and the profits as well.

Being involved at Apple Academy Charter Public Schools will be my attempt along with my board of directors

Please share who is on the board of directors. Where is the money coming from?

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.

In theory it sounds nice, but reality usually creeps in. What will the work rules be in the schools? What will the hours be? Of course all this must be negotiated, no? Will teachers that are over 40 years of age be hired and/or be able to keep their jobs? Will there be creaming? Will there be students with IEP's, not just for speech or guidance, but for true special education issues? 

AJ, I really believe there was so much more you could have done after you left UTLA. You could have joined forces with Diane Ravitch. You could have been a voice to counter the deformers. You could have started a foundation that advocates for children and families in poverty. But you didn't. You chose to go to the Dark Side. I have nothing against you personally. I like you. I am appreciative you came on my radio show. But professionally, I question your loyalty, and look to the ground in disappointment. There was so much more you could have done to affect true change in education.

Now, if you truly wished to run a charter you could have got in touch with me and run my charter school that I am still attempting to open.


Anonymous said...

congratulations - you went the whole blog without once using the word that's KEY to education - STUDENTS. But then we know you are all about jobs and tenure - which NOBODY IN THE REAL WORLD HAS EXCEPT TEACHERS and which must be eliminated to have any improvement in student outcomes. This is why parents like me, work actively against the teachers unions. Love the great teachers, hate the others and the unions. You've created a world where we must choose between your job sop and my kids future. Gues who's side I'm taking? Even FDR warned against unions inside a govt monopoly (all govt services are monopolies, and hence have no competition and hence have ZERO reason to change - and ALL improvement requires change, hence govt service must, must must suck. And they do. And you are the head cheerleader for that. And you mock the idea that "some teachers are more equal than others - well, some, as they are human - are "more equal" - the alt is a Communist/1984 world, that you clearly want.
Thanks for nuttin.
Bill Grundfest
Los Angeles

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...


Love your penultimate paragraph, it really speaks to Mr. Duffy's duplicity.

Also love how teabbaging reactionaries suggest that competition could somehow do better than the existing system. They've have competitive non-government schools via vouchers in Milwaukee and other places for decades and they've actually performed worse than their so-called monopolies. Like all free market fantasies, competition and markets are a bust as usual. What does the private sector do well again? Oh yeah, it shovels tons of money into the pockets of the parasitic class at the expense of communities and working class people.

Here's the easiest way to disarm these extremists that still cling to the highly discredited ideas of Freidman and Rand: why would greed produce better educational outcomes than a profound love of knowledge?