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: 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."

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 California: Where Reality is the Rub - Reports from the 2005 Public Hearings (Short Version)

April 6, 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.

It Takes a Community to Build Education

February 7, 2006

Across the nation, parents, educators, community leaders, and policymakers are increasingly turning their attention to teacher quality and its impact on student achievement. Parents and educators have long known that having a quality teacher in the classroom is a crucial component to improving children's learning. Research shows that a quality teacher is one of the most powerful and consistent predictors of student achievement.1 Nationwide, the strongest positive predictor of student achievement is the percentage of teachers with full certification and a major in the subjects they teach.2 Researchers in New York found that differences in teacher qualifications accounted for more than 90% of the variation in student achievement in reading and math,3 and researchers in Texas found that teacher expertise accounted for 40% of the variation in student achievement in reading and math.4Over the past year, the Ed Fund's Public Engagement Initiative talked with key stakeholders in San Francisco, including students, educators, parents, and policymakers, to determine how our community defines quality teaching for our public schools. Using focus groups, surveys, and small community conversations, we asked participants to imagine great teachers and then consider the characteristics that make those teachers great. What we found was that quality teaching in San Francisco can be viewed as an equation5 that combines teacher characteristics with the teaching and learning environment.

Students at New York Life Revitalizing High School Libraries Sites Talk About Why Their Library Media Centers Rock!

January 1, 2006

Funded by the New York Life Foundation from 2003-2005, Revitalizing High School Libraries (RHSL) was a pilot program that allowed Public Education Network (PEN) and its member local education funds (LEFs) in Minneapolis, San Francisco and Tampa to update and refurbish library media centers in four high schools. The high schools are: Washburn High School and Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis; Robinson High School in Tampa; and Mission High School in San Francisco. In this issue of Adolescents Read!, we report what students at these schools are saying about the impact that RHSL is having on their experiences with reading and studying. We close with some online resources that students at the four high schools recommend.

Online No Child Left Behind Survey Responses from California 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 - California

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.

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