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Highlights: About the Forum | Panel 1 | Panel 2 | Panel 3 | Panel 4 | Closing Session

Panel 2: How can federal, state, and local stakeholders leverage existing and emerging legislation and programs to create systemic family engagement?

Panelists representing federal, state, and local agencies agreed that better coordination of family engagement efforts is needed both within and across different levels of the system; federal agencies, in particular, need to do more to coordinate their efforts to work with and engage families.

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Transcript of the video: I think one of the best things that we could do is model it in terms of at the federal level -– you know, modeling our engagement just as this panel is doing -– that we need to coordinate efforts when we are talking about working and engaging parents and families throughout.
	And I think that can be done through having some focus areas that we have in common.  I mean, some of the ones -– and the biggest area we have –- and everyone here addressed it -– is systems change.  We are here knowing that education must transform itself within the next 5 to 10 years.  And we can do that only if we work together in terms of how we can do that.  
	And by working together I’m not talking just about the topics and the content and what we do and set up a plan.  I would also like to see the blending of funds.  And that, to me, would be the most critical piece.
 	-- Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education

It is also vital to blend funds to help facilitate cross-agency and cross-level efforts to create more systemic and integrated family engagement strategies. Jacqueline Jones, Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Early Learning at USDE, noted that the upcoming reauthorization discussions for programs such as NCLB-ESEA, Head Start, and IDEA provide ideal opportunities for stakeholders to come together and promote blended funding and other collaborative mechanisms that would allow for more systemic family engagement.
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At the federal level, we have to be clear about what is is we expect when we provide a funding stream that's truly dedicated to the engagement of our families, schools, and communities, and also have some measurable outcomes so that we know whether or not we're actually accomplishing some specific goals. And these goals really need to be tied to whether or not we see true academic achievement happening with our kids.
-- Carl Harris, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), U.S. Department of Education

As these programs are reauthorized, it is critical that the family engagement provisions within them become more robust and meaningful. Too often, the family engagement components of federal programs have been reduced to lists of activities to check off rather than real changes in how schools and families partner with one another. Federal programs should require comprehensive family engagement planning with measurable outcomes.

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Transcript of the video: And I think you’re trying to fill in the holes, and in many cases you’re just putting things on a piece of paper because, again, I’m going to come back to the metrics.  We haven’t truly defined at the federal level what meaningful parent, community engagement is, and then what are the expectations for states, districts, schools to engage in those activities.
	And so, it’s not so much, I believe, being prescriptive; but I think it really is putting out there the framework for it so that as states, districts, schools are complying for these grants, that they truly are looking at a rubric that is going to lead to action rather than just words on a piece of paper.
	I think one of the best things that could happen is if more of these grants were built around the idea of capacity building to professional development.  As every state -– and I do believe we have it worse in Nevada, and we’re not trying to be first in this area; but every state’s going through unprecedented budget cuts.  Even in Montgomery County -– again, the most well-funded –- one of the most well-funded public education districts in the country -– where are their cuts happening?  At the professional development level.
	And so there’s never been a greater time or need to put federal dollars towards building capacity in both leadership and teachers to really understand the return on investment that you get through true, meaningful parent community engagement.  And so it’s not so much leading the dollars in a certain way but making sure that the dollars put out there as an expectation are going to be fulfilled as these grants are awarded.
Heath E. Morrison, Superintendent, Washoe County School District

When designing grant competitions that include family engagement components, federal agencies need to provide clear expectations for how states, districts, and schools should engage families as part of their programmatic initiatives. This clarity helps move family engagement from the periphery to the center of proposed education reform plans, as applicants are required to engage families in meaningful ways as an integral part of their grant proposals.
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Highlights: About the Forum | Panel 1 | Panel 2 | Panel 3 | Panel 4 | Closing Session






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This policy forum is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education's Parental Information and Resource Center program. The content of this policy forum does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education.