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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Open to the Public: The Public Speaks Out on No Child Left Behind - A Summary of Nine Hearings September 2005-January 2006

April 21, 2006

Between September 2005 and January 2006, Public Education Network (PEN) held a series of public hearings to give students, parents, and community members -- audiences very much affected by the law, but usually left out of the policy debate -- an opportunity to tell their side of the NCLB story.While education organizations and Congress hold forums and hearings to solicit feedback from educators and school administrators about the impact of NCLB, they seldom look beyond schools to see the impact of the law on the public and on communities. But because schools play such a critical role in community life, understanding how the law affects students, families, and the broader community is critically instructive to policymakers and to others who are trying to make sure the law meets its goals.The hearings serve four purposes: They provide venues through which a public record of the local capacity to implement NCLB can be compiled. They serve as a means to inform and mobilize the public on issues pertaining to public education and what it takes to improve its quality. They give PEN and its national partners the information needed to bring public voices and concerns into the debate about reshaping NCLB. And, finally, they create a public "resume" for review by policymakers in the context of the law's reauthorization.

No Child Left Behind in New York State: A Matter of Priorities - Reports from the 2005 Public Hearings (Short Version)

April 5, 2006

Between September 2005 and January 2006, Public Education Network (PEN) held a series of public hearings to give students, parents, and community members -- audiences very much affected by the law, but usually left out of the policy debate -- an opportunity to tell their side of the NCLB story. State reports are available for California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

No Child Left Behind in New York State: A Matter of Priorities - Reports from the 2005 Public Hearings (Long Version)

April 5, 2006

Between September 2005 and January 2006, Public Education Network (PEN) held a series of public hearings to give students, parents, and community members -- audiences very much affected by the law, but usually left out of the policy debate -- an opportunity to tell their side of the NCLB story. State reports are available for California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Online No Child Left Behind Survey Responses from New York vs. the National Average

December 19, 2005

The PEN national office launched a 2005 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) online survey to follow up on the 2004 survey. The 2004 survey generated 12,000 responses and greatly influenced the recommendations in the "Open to the Public" report released in March 2005. PEN was particularly interested in reaching grassroots constituencies, but the voices of everyone -- including educators -- were counted.

Open to the Public: Speaking Out on "No Child Left Behind", A Report from 2004 Public Hearings - New York

March 31, 2005

Shortly after NCLB was passed in 2001, Public Education Network (PEN) began an intensive examination of the law to determine the rights and privileges it accords to parents and community members. Approximately 10,000 print copies of the resulting publication, "Using NCLB to Improve Student Achievement: An Action Guide for Community and Parent Leaders", have been requested by organizations throughout the country, with more than 40,000 copies downloaded from the PEN website. In addition, a series of NCLB action briefs, developed by PEN in partnership with the National Coalition for Parent Involvement In Education, have been downloaded more than 25,000 times.With this demand for information on NCLB as background, PEN held a series of state hearings to give the public a structured way to enter the debate on the pros and cons of NCLB and the effects, both positive and negative, the law is having on schools and students. Nine hearings took place in eight states over a five-month period. Each state hearing was conducted in partnership with local organizations and presided over by a panel of state and national hearing officers.PEN hopes these forums broadened the public debate about NCLB and provided policymakers with information on how their work encourages or discourages quality education for children. The findings from PEN's NCLB hearings were transmitted to decision makers at the national, state, and local levels to help them determine which aspects of NCLB the public supports, what are the primary concerns, and what mid-course corrections are needed to achieve the most beneficial results for all students.

A Community Action Guide to Teacher Quality

August 6, 2003

In October 1999, Public Education Network (PEN) received a three-year discretionary grant from the US Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), as part of a set of projects designed to better link research and data to policy and practice change.PEN dedicated its project to building public knowledge and understanding of how to improve teaching through the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data on teachers and teaching. The project consisted of two phases of work, conducted in eight communities across the country -- Chattanooga; TN, Greenville, SC; Lincoln, NE; Los Angeles, CA; McKeesport, PA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Raleigh, NC. The first phase, which included the creation of a data framework followed by data collection and analysis, was completed in June 2001. Phase two, a public engagement effort to disseminate the findings from the data to the public, was completed in October 2002.This action guide builds on the experiences and learning from our eight sites, and is intended as a tool for community groups that want to build public knowledge and understanding and take action to support quality teaching.

Give Kids Good Schools

Getting Communities Involved in Improving Sexual Health Education

March 1, 2002

Since 1994, Public Education Network (PEN) has been working with local education funds (LEFs) to engage communities in developing comprehensive school health programs in public schools. The effort follows a research-supported eight-component model developed by CDC, the federal agency funding the initiative.According to CDC, a comprehensive school health program must have the following elements:Health EducationPhysical EducationHealth ServicesNutrition ServicesHealth Promotion for StaffCounseling and Psychological ServicesHealthy School EnvironmentParent/Community InvolvementUsing these criteria, PEN asked eight LEFs to survey and assess the level of school health programs in their communities and to create plans to either establish or enhance comprehensive school health programs. In 1995, six of these sites received three-year implementation grants.In the 1999-2000 school year, five of the six sites received funds for assessing the capacity of their communities to address and sustain commitments to their comprehensive school health initiatives beyond the life of the PEN grants. These LEFs are located in Buffalo, NY; Lancaster, PA; McKeesport (MonValley), PA; Paterson, NJ; and Atlanta, GA. This edition of Lessons from the Field summarizes the work of four of these LEFs so that others might learn from their experiences.

Increasing Safety in America's Public Schools

April 1, 2001

As the Public Education Network (PEN) and its member local education funds (LEFs) are committed to creating systems of public education that result in high achievement for every child, we believe that equal opportunity, access to quality public schools, and an informed citizenry are all critical components of a democratic society. Part of making available a high-quality public education is ensuring that students and teachers spend their days in safe schools, which are free from violence, free from fear of harassment and threatening situations, and conducive to teaching and learning.Five local education funds have helped their communities broach these difficult issues with conversations on national and local issues of safety and violence in schools. During the last part of 2000, more than 250 people participated in conversations in Buffalo, NY; Lancaster, PA; McKeesport, PA; and Paterson, NJ. In February 2001, the local education fund in Atlanta, GA hosted a conversation that included students, teachers, principals, law enforcement officials, parents, and other community leaders.These local education funds conducted their community dialogues on school safety and violence as part of an assessment of their community's readiness and capacity to address the health and well being of children in their public schools. This assessment included looking into issues of health insurance coverage, coordination of health and social services for children and their families, maintaining safe learning environments, and the level of resources devoted to children's health and social services. Participants, therefore, understood that these community dialogues are not just "one-shot" efforts at addressing school safety and violence but as a part of a more comprehensive approach to address the systemic issues affecting children in their public schools.The local education funds used The 1999 Metropolitan Life Survey of the American Teacher, Violence in America's Public Schools: Five Years Later, as a starting place for their conversations, to ground their local experiences in a national context. This Lessons from the Field provides a summary of the MetLife survey and highlights findings from the conversations in four local education fund communities. (Law enforcement officials are referred to in this publication as "officers." All teachers and students referred to here are from public schools, and all "schools" referred to are public schools.)