In 2012, Public Education Network (PEN) closed its doors after 21 years. PEN was a network of local education funds (LEFs) -- community based organizations in high poverty school districts across the United States -- that continue to work with their school districts and communities to improve public education for the nation's most disadvantaged children.

At the national level, PEN raised the importance of public engagement as an essential component of education reform. It brought the voice of LEFs and the communities they represent into the national education debate. Finally, PEN gave voice to the essential nature of the connection between quality public education and a healthy and thriving democracy.

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Case Study: Teacher Compensation Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF)

November 7, 2007

In the spring of 2001, the Mobile Area Education Fund (MAEF) began a concerted and unprecedented effort to organize and engage the public. What began as a project to support a tax referendum to fund education in the county became a way of life for MAEF and the citizens of Mobile. It was at this time that MAEF launched a public campaign (Yes We Can) to inform the citizens of Mobile about an upcoming referendum that would tax the people of Mobile to support education in the county. The campaign was successful, and on May 15, 2001, for the first time in 41 years, the people of Mobile voted to support this tax.

Case Study: Teacher Induction Durham Public Education Network (DPEN)

November 7, 2007

In March 2003, the Durham Public Education Network (DPEN) convened hundreds of public leaders in the community for a high-profile signing ceremony. They were gathered to sign a one-page community covenant would that allow the community to hold district and community leaders accountable for supporting school improvement.

Case Study: Public Engagement Initiative San Francisco Education Fund

May 15, 2007

The San Francisco Education Fund has a long history of community engagement. One of the first local education funds (LEFs) in the country, it was founded in 1979 after Proposition 13 significantly reduced funding to the California public schools. The Ed Fund was established to involve the community in improving the quality of teaching and learning in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). "By acting as a bridge between the community and the classroom, the Ed Fund increases the availability and impact of resources for students and teachers throughout San Francisco public schools."

Case Study: Teacher Evaluation Alliance for Education

May 15, 2007

The Alliance for Education, the Seattle-based local education fund (LEF), has focused its efforts on teaching quality issues since participating in the Annenberg Teacher Quality initiative in 2001. The Alliance's work began with a grassroots effort to engage the community, especially those who had been traditionally disenfranchised, around what it would take to for teachers to provide high quality instruction, and how the public could support teaching quality in Seattle. The Alliance aimed to build trust between the "community and the classroom" because it perceived that a lack of trust could undermine reform initiatives. In addition to listening to the community, the Alliance worked strategically with key stakeholders in the district (e.g., the union, district office, parent-teacher association, university fellows, etc.) to understand and accomplish its reform goals.

Case Study: Calling the Question Portland Schools Foundation

March 29, 2000

Procuring resources for public school reform can be a powerful focusing incentive. The Portland Schools Foundation (PSF), a sophisticated LEF with a strong leader, has learned how to leverage its funding and relationships to call the question and bring local and national attention to bear on local educational issues.