In his six years in office — four of which he chair the city's education committee — former Boston City Councilor John R. Connolly went out into the community, met with families, asked questions, and listened.
"What I saw very clearly," he says, "was that the family voice was being marginalized — it wasn't being listened to in any authentic way — and I took that with me."
Connolly knew this had to change. Now out of politics, he runs 1647, a nonprofit that works to bridge the gap between families and schools by helping individual schools implement family engagement programs. A trusting relationship between family and school is key to building toward a child's success, he says. Parents should feel comfortable speaking and schools should listen, as Connolly did.
"Sometimes we think the families need to be fixed and they don't," he says. "The families know what they want. It's a question of whether we are connecting them and connecting their voice."
In this edition of the EdCast, Connolly, co-founder and executive director at 1647, reflects on how to design and implement family engagement strategies that support student learning and success in school.
The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.