Updated! Now with Videos! Former LA Teacher Union Head Starts Charter, Now Hates Teacher Tenure


Not long ago, A.J. Duffy was a fixture at Though Gollum-like in stature and human affect, Duffy was a big wheel at the Los Angeles chapter of the California Teachers Association union and he was one of the great villains of our online universe due to his barely repressed rage at slights real and imagined. Like Ernst Blofeld in the Bond franchise or Magneto in the X-Men, Duffy was such a good bad guy we put him in as many videos as we possibly could.

Here he is addressing a teachers union rally, sounding more like Humongous from the Road Warrior than a latter-day Mr. Chips. Click on the link for a ringtone-ready exhortation about "twisting arms" and "threatening people":

Boy have times changed! As my old scoutmaster used to say, give a troublemaker some responsibility and he'll become the best company man you've ever seen. Reason Foundation education analyst Lisa Snell points me to Duffy's latest gig. These days, the only arms Duffy is twisted are those of his staff at the charter school he's heading up. Charters are schools that are funded by tax dollars but freed from most of the collective bargaining and bureaucratic hassles attending to conventional public schools. Charters get a fraction of the per-pupil dollars that go to conventional schools and they live or die on the number of students they voluntarily attract. When he headed up the LA teachers union, Duffy was an unwavering opponent of charters.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

The longtime anti-charter crusader wants 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.

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.

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

Duffy will have a unionized school, preferably with his former union, but not at the expense of sacrificing his vision for how a school should operate, he said.

Skeptics, who criticized Duffy's management of the union, now question his qualifications to run schools. Charter school advocates responded cautiously, but were generally positive.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had called the union under Duffy "one unwavering roadblock to reform." The mayor had no comment, but Patrick Sinclair, a spokesman for a group of schools overseen by the mayor, said, "We're glad he's pursuing a lot of the changes and reforms that we and the mayor would like to see."

Read the whole thing here. Good luck at the new school, Mr. Duffy, and remember: However tough it is to deal with teachers, at least you don't have to deal with yourself.

Bonus video: Duffy takes a star turn in this video about LA's Locke High School, whose transformation from failing school to charter was kind of like the Prague Spring of SoCal educational reform.


NEXT: The Debt and A Good Old Fashioned Orgy

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  1. Hard to believe people like this actually exist in the real world, instead of just fantasy landscapes such as comic books and WWII documentaries on the History Channel.

  2. Looks like you sugarfreed some links, Nick.

    1. Damn you beat me to it.

    2. *nutpunch*

  3. I’m sure his former comrades in the teachers union will be 100% behind his proposed reforms and won’t be upset at all. No hyperbole of any kind will be uttered. They will all use impeccable punctuation and grammar as well.

  4. Lots of writing about videos and links to videos and audio…

    But no actual video or links.

    Did the Editor in chief of just fail at posting on

    1. Phew. I thought my browser was fucking with me.

    2. Here he is addressing a teachers union rally”

      That’s gotta be a link…

  5. bonus video

    1. Turn off the phone bitch puddin

      1. *nutpunch*

      2. Give it a rest, dipshit.

  6. Just post the links, and we will spare your lives!

  7. Re Duffy: “No saint like a reformed sinner.” And no greater pain in the ass, either.

  8. Remember when Craig did Humongous on South Park? That was cool

  9. Now with actual vids! They wuz sunk when I saved on a mobile device. A thousand hours of detention for me!

    1. “….and as quickly as he had come, grandchildrens, The Jacket disappeared without a sound. Those of us who was there that day? We remember. We…remEMBER.”

    2. No, just some remedial classes with SugarFree. Of course, when you see the kind of shit he links to, you might prefer the detention.

    3. Too easy. Instead, you must write “I will not phone it in” 500 times on an old flip phone with T9 disabled.

  10. From the source article:
    “”If you were to put it in evangelical terms, this is about the best conversion I could hope for,”

    This isn’t a conversion, you idiot. He’s just saying shit people pay him to say. Currently your side is paying the guy.

    To “put it in evangelical terms,” this is Pascal’s Wager.

  11. “We’re twisting arms… we’re threatening people…”

    I don’t like the hatchet job done when editing that first video together. I want to hear Duffy in context. Maybe he was talking about chiropractory and, um, some legitimate form of threatening.

    Former UTLA President John Perez said he wished Duffy well but said he could not endorse Duffy’s new direction. Charter school operators, he said, are laying the groundwork for using public-school funds at private schools through so-called vouchers.

    They’re also opening the door for corporations “who want to destroy public education by getting their hands on the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on public education in this country,” Perez said.

    We’ll just let that last bit hang out there for a second.

    1. the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend piss away on public education

  12. Wow, a Czech reference in a post by someone other than Matt.

    I think this story goes to show that Jesus was right: anyone can be saved, even the worst wretch imaginable.

    1. Jesus would curb stomp your ass!

      1. Only after going 99 weeks without saving anyone…

        1. *nutpunch*

        2. Jesus collects unemployment?

          1. Have you saved anyone this week? No. Have you tried to save any one this week? Yes.

            Ah well what can you expect from a long hair peacenik hippie.

  13. Green Dot took over in 2007, anyone know the graduation stats for Locke this past june?

  14. Some people just like twisting arms. They don’t really care whose arms they are.

  15. Tenure. A valid argument might be advanced for preserving tenure at the University level in that unpopular and unconventional views could, in theory, be allowed to develop to the point that their value could be assessed. But why tenor for the presenters of foundational knowledge in K-12? What is the point? What is the rationale? What is the purpose?

    1. There is no valid argument for tenure in any public education venture. How do you think we come up with so many studies stating the blatantly obvious? “Eating McDonalds every day makes you fat, scientists find!”

  16. I subbed at Locke High one day. Holy shit, that place is a war zone. Charter, public, private. Nothing will work unless the students aren’t to fuck you up constantly.

  17. Teacher tenure makes no sense in K-12. Tenure was designed to protect academics from external pressures so they could be free to focus on unconventional/unpopular/unorthodox research. What research does a 9th grade English teacher do?

    It’s along the same lines of calling teachers “faculty.” Trying to make elementary educators feel better about themselves.

  18. Bets on how many death threats this guy gets?

  19. Hmmm. I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news but it’s gotta be heard.

    1. That “study” compares Locke’s improvement against an average of all the other (non-charter) schools in the entire district. How does it compare to the closest 3-5 highschools? How do these rates of improvement measure against pre-charter?

      1. does this take into account cheating at the public high schools?

  20. I wouldn’t trust that douchenozzle with my worst enemies’ kids.


    1. You obviously haven’t picked up fully on the whole hate thing.

  21. In other education news, Keith Olbermann reports a “mass exodus” of teachers and other public emoployees from the state of Wisconsin.


    Two things pop out: 1. according to Olbermann Wisconsin teacher retirements are doubling. This means that despite all the complaints at how shitty they were paid and treated by the government, a large amount of teachers were finacially secure enough and had accumulated enough pension to just retire.

    2. This would seemly confirm the subtle notion that these people don’t actually give a shit about the kids since rather than suffer the indignity of a paycut, they literally just up and quit and abandon Wisconsin kids. For the children, no doubt.

    Stop me if I’m sounding to “intrinsically paternalistic”.

    1. I feel a Damonic power overtaking me as we speak…

      1. DAMON, OUT!!

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  24. I don’t really see the Gollum resemblance. Looks and sounds a lot like Larry “Bud” Melman though.

  25. The real story and newest data on how charter schools perform better than LA schools on all counts.…..lausd.html

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