It’s both fair and unfair that John Connolly will always be known as Boston’s almost Mayor. He came very close in the last election (disclaimer: I endorsed him).
Yet over a year later, he’s immersed in his real passion â€” education. He joined Left Ahead today to talk about his 1647 pilot program to make public school work, one student at a time.
If you want the background, you can keep checking he 1647 website, but it now is nude, with only contact info. You can get the basics of Connolly’s role in a Boston Globe article here. To see the organization that showed Connolly how to do home visits and other family engagement, replete with numerous research documents, check the Flamboyen Foundation here. Flamboyen ran with the home-visit process and perfected it in Puerto Rico and D.C.
After the mayoral race, Connolly wasn’t up for practicing law or running for public office again. Instead, he settled into Chris Gabrieli’s National Center on Time & Learning in Boston in a small space. He’s launched the 1647 pilot program, with a single paid staffer. He’s been working with teachers in a school in Salem as proof of concept locally. They’ll expand there, then on to another gateway city, and eventually to Boston.
Listen in as he speaks of the concept, at once commonsensical and idealistic. At its rawest, it means a teacher arranging with one or both parents to visit the home to find out how the student studies and learn best. Parents are understandably wary at first, thinking the call is because the kid is in trouble. The next reaction is incredulity; no teacher has ever wanted to know how my child learns.
Of course, done well, this process almost invariably leads to such advances as higher grades, better attendance, and parents knowing what to do to help their kids. The investment up front by teachers is big, with bigger benefits.
I asked the obvious, such as do you have to compensate the teachers (yes), are parents, teachers and students suspicious (yes), and does it make much difference if the home has books, internet, educated parents and other resources (not really as that’s not the point of the home-visit process). Instead, listen in as Connolly speaks about the key factor in the per-student relationship, trust.
He gave an example of the adversarial relationship parents typically had with school before the home visits and how that changed. The teachers did have to put out, but the payback was substantial.