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: 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.

Helping Families Improve Local Schools: High-Achieving Schools in Low-Income Communities

June 1, 1999

Increasing the involvement of caregivers, parents, and families in their children's education is a key to improving the academic success of our nation's public school students. The positive impact of family interest and participation in schools is well documented. However, more opportunities for meaningful involvement are needed, and many barriers still remain. A recently released study by Public Agenda found that most teachers rate parental involvement at their school as "fair" or "poor." In particular, educators and other practitioners continue to struggle with how to involve all parents in supporting all students' high achievement. Organizations like local education funds (LEFs) focus attention, support, and resources on communities where student achievement is often low, stresses on families are high, and schools lack the basics.But what does "involvement" mean?How can parents and other family members with limited resources of money, time, and formal education be equipped to grapple with the myriad issues that affect student achievement and overall school performance? During 1998, the Public Education Networkf orged a partnership with Kraft Foods and member local education funds to explore key questions about family involvement. The result of this effort was the creation of a variety of local strategies to support high student achievement in low-income schools.

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