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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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.)

Proceedings of Public Conversations: The Roles, Structures, and Functions of Dialogue and Trusteeship in Public School Governance

January 1, 2000

Includes "The School Board and the Community: Forging a Stronger Partnership" (Atlanta, Georgia - October, 1995), and "Dialogue and Trusteeship in Public School Governance" (Grand Rapids, Michigan - April 18, 1996). Part of the Public Education Network School Board Leadership/Public Engagement Initiative.

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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