A.J. Duffy, who ran the powerful United Teachers of Los Angeles for six years, has announced plans to head up his own charter school. This week, he moves from board member to executive director of Apple Academy Charter Public Schools. If approved by the L.A. Unified School District, the Duffy-led school or schools will open in South L.A. by fall of 2012 at the latest. In announcing his plans, Duffy outlined some ideas that would seem to contradict his former positions on issues like teacher effectiveness and accountability. As head of UTLA, Duffy supported teacher tenure and seniority – now he says that in his school, he’ll require teachers to demonstrate class room success and would streamline the dismissal process. Currently, “due process” can stretch out several years – Duffy said in today’s L.A. Times that he’d shorten it to “10 days if I could.” Under the LAUSD banner, and in the name of protecting union teaching jobs, Duffy led the charge against charter schools on LAUSD campuses, while at the same time campaigning for charter-like freedoms at traditional schools. Under Duffy’s management, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had called the UTLA “one unwavering roadblock to reform.” What kinds of reforms will the former union head enact at his own school? Is this move a contradiction or a continuation of his career in education? What will Duffy’s new stance on education mean to LAUSD? Would you send your children to Duffy High?
A.J. Duffy, former head of UTLA and founding board member of Apple Academy Charter Public Schools