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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The Houston A+ Challenge: Staying the Course

August 15, 2007

With support from the Ford Foundation, the Houston A+ Challenge participated in Public Education Network's Gulf States Initiative, designed to enlarge the role of the public in school improvement in the Gulf States region. Public Education Network (PEN) is a network of local education funds (LEFs) across the nation. In PEN's view, "public responsibility" will not emerge from conventional, smaller-scale efforts to involve parents more closely with their children's schools or to inform the community about a superintendent's program. Instead, PEN initiatives take as their premise that in a democracy, public schools can only improve in a sustainable way if a broad-based coalition of community members pushes them to improve and holds them accountable. The Gulf States Initiative charged six LEFs, including the Houston A+ Challenge, with moving their communities toward different and more substantial forms of responsibility for their schools.

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 Texas: A Harbinger for the Rest of the Country? - 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.

No Child Left Behind in Texas: A Harbinger for the Rest of the Country? - 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.

Online No Child Left Behind Survey Responses from Texas 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 - Texas

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.

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