Friday, July 19, 2013


Yesterday (July 18, 2013), Dr. Jan Jones posted this query in response to the latest issue of The F. M. Duffy Reports (Volume 18, Number 3).

Excellent article!  Here's the standard issue that innovators face:  I can't move  my system into one that is innovative for students, staff, parents because my funding is tied to the moronic, punitive funding portioned out to us from the Feds and the state.  

We will be meeting with a new Supt. in Texas next week.  He wants to create a district that is innovative and earns state and national recognition....However, due to his great financial limits, all he can do is dance the NCLB dance and the Texas two step....... The frustration of innovators is that their talents lay fallow due to regulations that control them and again, importantly, their options to use the limited funds they do get.

Any suggestions from the authors or you or our esteemed colleagues regarding this critical issue?   

Dr. Jan Jones 
If you have some suggestions for Dr. Jones, please post them in this Blog Roll.


Francis M. Duffy, Ph.D. said...

Here is a reply to Dr. Jones from Dr. Barbara McCombs

Thanks for sharing Dr. Jones' important constraint -- it is one facing all states getting funding given the Federal regs associated with NCLB these days. Those states, district, and individual schools who get around it are the stories I read every day. Some of them get in trouble and others get out of trouble once they have the courage to do what they need to do, show required improvements in student achievement (and reducing the achievement gap). Check this out on ASCD and AERA sites, and ETS just did a new report that addresses part of this issue.

I am dealing with addressing this issue myself for several new publications coming out soon. We are facing a real paradigm dilemma -- requires a movement from the ground level to the top. Mainly it requires the courage to let the powers that be know what is really happening in classrooms and school and the lives of individual students, teachers, school leaders, and families. Sort of like the broken system here in Florida that profiles us all. Sad...

What a colleague and our team are doing to fund an innovative, very successful program with disadvantaged K-12 students in Charlotte, NC is bootstrapping funds from whatever source we can and bringing in private local philanthropist who truly want to help these underserved children and their families. What I see is the creative human spirit in action to make innovation in schools actually happen. The resources are there if one looks outside the Federal or state levels. Teams actually grow closer doing this -- an added benefit when those concerned know they are pulling the oars together in the rising stream of troubled waters.

My two cents worth ... Best wishes, Barbara

Barbara L. McCombs, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist and Director
Human Motivation, Learning, and Development Center
Applied Research & Technology Institute (ARTI)
School of Engineering & Computer Science (SECS)
University of Denver (DU)

Francis M. Duffy, Ph.D. said...

Here is another reply to Dr. Jones from Dr. Howard Adelman:

Hi Jan,

Certainly, more money is needed to support innovative systemic change. And we should do everything we can to increase public financing for public education.

In the meantime, we need to keep innovation rolling by redeploying some of what is being used in ineffective and inequitable ways in schools, districts, state departments.

Our work focuses on transforming how schools address barriers to learning and teaching and re-engage disconnected students. See: F.M. Duffy Reports
Creating Successful School Systems Requires Addressing Barriers to Learning and Teaching by Howard S. Adelman & Linda Taylor

The process first pulls together all student and learning supports and then, over a period of several years, develops a unified, comprehensive, and equitable system of interventions.

Research indicates that accomplishing this requires pursuing four fundamental and interrelated policy and implementation concerns:
(1) expanding school improvement policy from a two to a three component framework;
that is, adding to the prevailing focus on instruction and management, a third
component dedicated to addressing barriers to learning and teaching,
(2) operationalizing the third component as a unified and comprehensive system of
student and learning supports,
(3) reworking school leadership and infrastructure and the infrastructure for
school community collaboration to ensure development of the third component –
with an emphasis on redeploying and weaving together existing resources,
(4) ensuring establishment of effective mechanisms for systemic change, scale up, and

With respect to weaving together school resources and braiding in community resources, we emphasize mapping and analyzing existing resources to answer the following:

>What are the existing resources (programs and people) being used at the school to address learning, behavior, and emotional problems?

>Are there critical gaps in efforts to address the most pressing barriers to learning and teaching?

>How can the resources be unified and redeployed to develop an innovative and equitable system that enhances effectiveness and fills gaps related to addressing the most pressing barriers?

In our work with Louisiana, they began a process of integrating their federal silo funding. See
Funding Stream Integration to Promote Development and Sustainability of a Comprehensive System of Learning Supports –


Howard & Linda

Howard Adelman, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology & Co-director

Linda Taylor, Ph.D.

School Mental Health Project/
Center for Mental Health in Schools
Dept. of Psychology, UCLA
Box 951563
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563
Ph: 310/825-1225 email:
Center website:

Francis M. Duffy, Ph.D. said...

I also sent Dr. Jones a reply to her query. I said,

I suspect that the reason respondents to your query have not specifically addressed your issue is that they are struggling with it too.

Here’s what I would do if I were the superintendent of that Texas school district. I would petition the State Department of Education and the Federal Department of Education to grant my district a waiver from the “rules.” (The Chugach School District did this many years ago, they were able to innovate, and they won the first Baldrige Quality Award in Education). Then, I would start an intense process of budget reallocations looking for places to move dollars into a budget line to support innovation. Then, I would hire either a full-time or part-time “development officer” (universities have these positions to raise grant money and financial gifts). I would then empower the development officer to start fund-raising. I would also look carefully at the oil and gas companies in my area who are tapping into new oil and gas reserves and I would have the development officer meet with those people to ask for their financial support (several Wyoming school districts, for example, each have several million dollars in their reserve fund).

The predicted response to this idea will be “nice idea, but….” What follows the “but” will be the objection. Creative thinking combined with courage, passion, and vision are required if educators want to create and sustain transformational change.


Francis M. Duffy, Ph.D. said...

A reply to Jan Jones from Marion Brady...

There's probably no easy answer. Having confronted that problem for decades--even before the current "reform" insanity--I recently decided to focus my efforts on alternative education programs for kids that "the system" wishes would just disappear. Those in charge of such programs tend to be more open to change, particularly if they're working with kids at the bottom end of performance measures.

I met (again) yesterday with the head of Alternative Programs for Orange County, Florida schools, and a sympathetic school board member. The board member will be meeting with the superintendent to point out the idiocy of R&D in matters curricular the merit of which is determined by a standardized test score. He'll be asking her to pursue a waiver from the state to permit creation of a small, mall-based program for forty kids--20, AM, 20 PM--that uses my totally integrated course of study for the core academic subjects (Connections: Investigating Reality) for about two hours, with the rest of the time for personal and group projects,

Home Page:

Francis M. Duffy, Ph.D. said...

A reply to Jan Jones from Peter Barnard:

Hi Jan

Have just received Frank's newsletter.

I believe I can help although you may be surprised and doubtful. I cannot help with the curriculum as such but I believe I can teach secondary schools that a small change to the way a secondary organises itself can have a profound effect on innovation, culture, creativity, parent partnership, outcomes, and teacher quality.

I have set these out in Vertical Tutoring and again in The Systems Thinking School...part of Frank Duffy's series and about to be published in the US.

If you are interested I will happily explain the changes needed and the reasons for them which incur NO COST. I will even fly to Texas and explain at my own expense. Up to you of course... I offer my help even though no school in the US has ever taken up my offer, while over 500 in the UK and worldwide have. There are now around a thousand schools, a number that is growing fast who have made fundamental changes to their organisational culture...

Having never worked with a US school, there may be matters beyond my understanding as to why this is ??

I am an ex school principal and work as a non profit organisation or for free...whichever I can afford at the time. My only interest is schools, teachers, families and kids and how they can work better...

Kind Regards



Chad Green said...

The blog looks great!

Angela Engel said...

Dr. Jones,
Thank you for your question. I think the issue of budget cuts and limited funding poses a creative opportunity for those of us intent towards innovation and equity. You mention your Texas Superintendent who only has the money to conform to NCLB. I would argue that the funding issue is the new rationale for resisting high-stakes testing and the Common Core Curriculum.
This is truly the occasion to declare, “Look, you have not provided the money; the resources; or the opportunity for all children to achieve education proficiency. Instead of buying new curriculum we can’t afford, spending more money on test preparation and test outcomes that narrow learning, and attempting to comply with the reporting and data collection requirements of these weighty bureaucratic mandates, we’re simply going to meet the needs of our students.” It’s a win-win because we’re reclaiming the conversation. If represented officials value education than they will make the serious investment where it counts – nutrition, technology, small class sizes, affordable college, professional development, arts and music. Otherwise, we need to send the clear message to get their fingers out of our business as we go about the serious job of preparing our students for a changing and uncertain future.
I really want to challenge educators, parents, and administrators to look at the challenges before us in new ways. If we’re going to lead in education then we will have to stop playing the victim role. To use the football metaphor we need to step out of playing “defense” and step into an “offensive” role that makes it clear that when it comes to learning and students – we know best.
Here are some talking points:
- NCLB and the model of standardization and high-stakes testing have been implemented for over a decade now and it has failed at EVERY level. We cannot continue to institute failure in our public schools.
- This version of corporate reform is too costly and expensive and the political will does not exist to ensure the resources and opportunities for children living in poverty.
- All evidenced based research supports that the best education model is learner centered, individualized, diversified, and experiential-- everything standardization and high-stakes testing is NOT.
We have the research, we have the record and now we have the financial justification to put an end to corporate reform.
Angela Engel