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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Standards for Local Education Funds (LEFs)

November 18, 2011

The following standards have been adopted by Public Education Network (PEN). They were first developed and recommended for use by education support organizations by the National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education (2011), which had adapted standards contained in the Independent Sector's Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations (2004). PEN's Membership Committee, with suggestions from a broad range of local education funds, tailored the Commission's standards to more closely align with the work of Local Education Funds.

An Appeal to All Americans: National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education

May 24, 2011

A national commission comprised of top education and philanthropic leaders is calling with new urgency for an increase in the nation's commitment to and civic investment in public education. An Appeal to All Americans also represents the first national and independently authored report to outline standards of practice for public and local education funds.As federal and state governments make dramatic cuts to public education funding, the independent National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education urges the public to redouble its efforts to ensure that the nation's public schools provide a high-quality education for all young people.The Commission, created by Public Education Network (PEN), was charged with making a renewed case for civic investment, highlighting the work of organizations that can build and channel that investment, and developing standards for the rapidly-rising number of citizendriven, local public education assistance organizations - local education funds (LEFs), school foundations, etc. - working throughout our nation to improve public schools.

Who Helps Public Schools? Public Education Support Organizations in 2010

June 3, 2010

There were more than 19,000 nonprofit organizations devoted to supporting public education in the United States in 2007. These organizations include booster clubs, parent-teacher groups, public education funds, scholarship funds, high school alumni associations, and others. While most of these organizations are small, together they spent roughly $4.3 billion in support of public education in 2007.This report assesses the current status of education support organizations in the United States; provides details on the activities, capacities, and resources of public education funds; and compares Public Education Network (PEN) member organizations with other types of education funds. On the basis of a survey of public education funds and an analysis of the latest data available from the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the report identifies key similarities and differences among the groups.Public education funds are dedicated to assisting public schools and school districts by raising money to support programs for teacher training and support, after-school programs, and school supplies and by promoting community support for public schools. The project was commissioned by PEN in Washington, D.C.

Community Accountability for Quality Schools: Results of the 2008 National Poll and the Civic Index for Quality Public Education - Executive Summary

June 24, 2008

Describes what various sectors of a community must do to support public education. These sectors, or 'categories' of community support, as described in this document, must hold themselves and each other accountable for each playing their part. And ultimately the public will be the arbiter of whether they have succeeded.

Civic Index for Education

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: How Communities, Parents and Students Assess the Impact of the No Child Left Behind Act 2004 - 2007

July 23, 2007

For three years, Public Education Network (PEN) has listened to parents, students, business and community leaders testify about what the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act means to their lives and aspirations. Their message is consistent, from Boston to San Francisco:It is right to hold public education accountable for adequately educating every child to his/her full potentialIt is wrong to believe NCLB can achieve its goals unless far deeper and systemic changes are made in resources, capacities and will.

Public Affairs: The Community's Role in Public Education

July 11, 2006

Public education is essential for a vibrant democracy, a healthy economy, and a pluralistic society. In the United States, public education is the primary institution that prepares each successive generation to participate in American democracy. The knowledge and actions of those generations will determine the priorities we set as a society and will frame what constitutes our quality of life.For public education to survive and thrive, Public Education Network (PEN) believes the public must support the vital roles of public schools, and that good public schools can only exist when the public plays an active role in ensuring a high-quality education for every child. Therefore, in 2001, PEN undertook a bold four-year, $15 million initiative to increase public responsibility for public schools -- i.e., the degree to which the public explicitly demands high-quality schools for every child -- in 14 communities around the country.

Citizen Mobilization and Community Institutions: the Public Education Network's Policy Initiatives

May 1, 2006

This report analyzes the results of a bold set of initiatives designed to stimulate and support public responsibility for public education in 14 locales around the country. Local education funds (LEFs) led these initiatives, which received support from the Annenberg Foundation through the LEFs' national organization, the Public Education Network (PEN). In each of the three initiatives, the LEFs were expected to lead a process of community engagement in one area of local education policy: equipping students to meet the standards set forth in accountability systems; improving teaching quality; or strengthening school-community ties.

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