Thursday, February 23, 2012

Former DOE Official Michael Duffy: It's All About the Adults

Don't you just love it when every ed deformer says it's about the children not the adults -- like teachers--- when in fact an entire charter school industry has sprung up where adults like Michael Duffy go into the DOE for a short time before using that "service" -- a very loose term here --- to enrich themselves on the backs of children.

Here Leonie Haimson takes Duffy and Victory down. (By the way -- Victory used to be run by Peg Harrington, with a deep resume of working as a teacher, principal and top level official at the old NYCBOE. I think she got nudged out by Klein and went on to run Victory.)

Before you get to Duffy, check out Leonie doing about a 200% better job than any UFT official in defending teachers in her appearance on WPIX- 11 this morning: who is to blame for struggling schls. Hint: it’s not teachers. http://goo.gl/ZpqeI

Michael Duffy and the "turnaround" of Victory charter schools

A new charter school called Great Oaks is applying to the state to start in NYC’s District 2, to be located on Governors Island, though Downtown Express reports that the Education Committee of Community Board I opposes it.  The charter school’s letter of intent to NYSED lists as the lead applicant Benjamin B. Carson, described as a former “statistician” for the NYC DOE charter office, as well as the Co-Founder of the Great Oaks Charter School in Newark. 
The Newark branch only started last August and has no track record, but the letter of intent says the network has formed to “replicate the successful methods of the MATCH Public Charter School in Boston," featuring “high academic expectations, a No Excuses school culture, a focus on engaging classroom instruction and individualized attention to students’ needs via high-dosage tutoring.”
One of the co-founders of the proposed NYC school and a board member will be Michael Duffy, who is the former head of the NYC DOE charter office, well known for his blase attitude towards protesting parents during intense co-location hearings.   Duffy is also listed as the key contact for the Great Oaks Charter School in Newark on the NJ State website. 
Michael Duffy
Duffy is now employed by a company called Victory, which has started at least 16 charter schools in NYC, Philadelphia and Chicago.  
Victory has had a generally dismal reputation in NYC for charging large management fees while running some of the lowest-performing charters in the city. Here is what Kim Gittleson of GothamSchools wrote about the chain in 2010, after analyzing their management fees and results:
“I found that the five Victory Schools that had progress report scores in 2008-2009 placed in the bottom 35 percent of all charter schools and in the bottom 20 percent of schools citywide… These middling performance numbers come despite the fact that the seven schools paid around $2,163 per pupil to Victory Schools for the company’s services. This is 17 percent of these charter schools’ per pupil revenues from the state.”
DOE now intends to close Peninsula Prep charter, a school run by Victory until recently.  Unfortunately when NYT /School Book ran a story about DOE’s plan to close the school, Duffy was quoted as a approving of the decision, as an apparently disinterested observer, without noting that he currently works for the company that ran the school until June 30, 2010.  Indeed, in Peninsula Prep’s  most recent annual report to DOE, dated July 2011, the board made clear that they had dropped Victory as their management company, in an apparent attempt to persuade DOE to allow the school to stay open:

a. Peninsula Preparatory Academy Charter School disassociated itself from Victory Schools as a management company.
b. PPACS adopted the New York City Department of Education scope and sequence for Social Studies instruction instead of the Victory proprietary Core Knowledge Program. and: c. PPACS increased the student enrollment to from 300 to 350.


In the NYT/Schoolbook article, Duffy supported DOE closing of the school:
“I definitely think in 2012, what was good enough even five years ago is no longer good enough,” Mr. Duffy said.  (He should know!)
Duffy left DOE to work for Victory in July 2010, shortly after Victory’s Albany charter school, New Covenant, was shut down by SUNY because of poor performance.  
 Read more:  Michael Duffy and the "turnaround" of Victory charter schools

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