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Forum Highlights and Videos

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

About the Forum

On November 9, 2010, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) sponsored a National Policy Forum on Family, School, and Community Engagement, held in Washington, D.C. The forum provided an opportunity for a diverse group of families, community members, education practitioners, philanthropists, and representatives from federal and state agencies to develop a policy strategy that fosters systemic, integrated, and sustainable family and community engagement that connects to student learning.

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Transcript of the video: What we have today is an opportunity to reshape the conversation in our country about family and parent engagement.  The reality is that we all have had the –- heard the rhetoric for some time about the importance of parent and family engagement. Many of you have been engaged in this work for many years, but what we recognize is that as a country we have failed to actually put together the systems and supports that allow us to actually achieve our goals for getting families and parents in their students’ academic lives and in our schools.  And education –- public education, in particular, has paid the price for that, which means that our children have paid that price. -- James H. Shelton III, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education

Effective family and community engagement emphasizes shared responsibility for student success; continuous engagement from birth to young adulthood; and engagement wherever children learn—in the home, school, and community. Recognizing this, the USDE designed the forum to spark new directions for federal, state, and local policies that can drive these opportunities. Over two dozen experts engaged in dynamic, interactive discussions about the role of family, school, and community engagement (FSCE) in education reform. These video highlights from the Policy Forum reveal the major themes that emerged from the panels at the forum. 1
Watch the video that accompanies the above text.

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Transcript of the video: When we talk about reframing family and community engagement, we actually are talking about a new, more comprehensive definition.  We’re not talking anymore about parent involvement, which really, in some cases, signifies a very individual act.  We’re actually talking about something much more robust and that involves relationships because we all know that that’s key to this engagement work. So, family engagement is a shared responsibility.  We’re talking about a dynamic relationship among the stakeholders.  Schools, community agencies, and organizations -– they’re committed to engaging families.  And that commitment is really what’s needed. We often talk about how do we incentivize families to be engaged in their children’s education.  It’s that relationship and commitment from partners that really is at the center of those families wanting to be engaged.  So that happens, and then families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development.  So we’re talking about a reciprocal relationship here -– a collaboration. We also see family engagement as a cradle to career dynamic.  And we’ve heard that language a lot.  I was here yesterday for the Promise Neighborhoods Forum.  And we see this embedded in a lot of the Department’s language. We know that family and community engagement has to take place right when that baby is born, right through their career.  Geoffrey Canada yesterday talked about how many of us who have had nieces, nephews, or sons or daughters, that the job isn’t over when they walk onto that college campus their freshman year, that we’re really talking about supporting them right through to the acquisition of that career. And then, finally, we see this across all contexts.  So it’s not just in the school, not just at home but anywhere that children learn. -- Karen L. Mapp, Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Everyone present—from the panelists to the participants to special guest speakers from USDE—agreed that FSCE is a key component of successful education reform that needs to be implemented in a more systemic, integrated, and sustainable way. The forum emphasized the fact that the essential elements of successful school reform—which include a focus on teaching and learning, a rigorous curriculum, teacher and principal effectiveness, a positive school climate and FSCE—operate as parts of an interconnected system.
Watch the video that accompanies the above text.

A number of major themes emerged for how this broader vision of family and community engagement can be accomplished, including policy levers for change and the use of data to create meaningful partnerships between schools, families and communities. This video summary highlights those themes, and is organized by the issues raised during each of the expert panel discussions.

1 Prior to the forum, Harvard Family Research Project developed a paper, Beyond Random Acts: Family, School, and Community Engagement as an Integral Part of Education Reform, which helped lay the foundation for the forum’s conversations about the role of FSCE in education reform by offering a framework based upon four decades of research and emerging innovations in the family engagement field. We invite you to read Beyond Random Acts alongside these video highlights to learn more about how the changing policy landscape is making room for more systemic, integrated, and sustainable FSCE.

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.