Dr. Karen Mapp, co-author of Beyond the Bakesale, spoke on August 19 at the Boston Public Schools Conference for Family-School Partnerships. She stressed the importance of family-school partnerships and how they need to be integral to the systems of our schools. “Family-school partnerships can no longer be considered an ‘add on’, but rather an essential tie that enhances the 4 C’s: capabilities (advocacy), connections (between all stakeholders), confidence, (self efficacy) and cognition (beliefs and values).” She especially stressed how school staffs need to honor and recognize families as “funds of knowledge” and tap into that knowledge. She also suggested that family engagement must be connected to student learning, whether that is through parents as decision makers in their students’ academic careers or through sharing student learning. Finally, she discussed the importance of creating learning environments that are welcoming and inviting to all people.
Over two hundred parents, administrators, teachers and community liaisons from Boston Public Schools, Portland, Maine and the Burlington-Winooski Partnership for Change participated in the full-day workshop focused on enhancing family-school partnerships. Dr. Mapp, a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and member of the US Department of Education’s Office of Parental Options and Information, discussed her work at the national policy level to ensure that the importance of family-school partnerships is recognized as a critical component of twenty-first century learning.