Public Education Network (PEN)

Legacy Collection

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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Who's for Public Education? Give Kids Good Schools Guide to Elected Officials and Candidates

September 7, 2011

Elected officials at every level have a responsibility to ensure that all children have quality public schools that prepare them for college and a career. In turn, individuals have a powerful role when it comes to electing candidates and passing measures that support quality public education.As citizens, we have the ability to set high expectations for public education, elect school board members, pay taxes to support public schools, vote for school bond referenda and elect public officials who fulfill campaign promises.This guide is written for everyone who wants to know how to recognize questions and issues that impact quality public education and is designed to help you ask informed questions of candidates and office holders.

Give Kids Good Schools

A Guide to Decision-Making in Schools

September 7, 2011

When it comes to broad questions about public schools -- like how money is spent, what classes are taught, and what extracurricular programs are offered -- decisions are made at many levels and it can be unclear who to go to for answers.The purpose of this guide is to identify who makes decisions in public schools and where you can go to get your questions answered.

Give Kids Good Schools

A Guide to Working with the Media

September 7, 2011

A guide developed to help users work with local media to maximize the impact of Give Kids Good Schools Week events.

Give Kids Good Schools

A Guide to Public Engagement And School Finance Litigation - 2008

January 31, 2008

Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of public education funding systems are currently underway in 21 states.1 Litigation represents an opportunity to restructure the ways in which public education is financed, expanded, and delivered to children across the country. Public engagement plays a uniquely important role to ensure real improvement in our schools. Public Education Network ("PEN") has developed this Guide to encourage community-based organizations to employ public engagement strategies while school finance litigation takes place in their states. While litigation may at times seem daunting and complex to non-lawyers, community-based organizations can do much to become involved in the process. Organizations can utilize public engagement strategies to ensure that the outcome of the litigation reflects the interests of constituent groups and the public.This Guide is organized to make the process of school finance litigation meaningful and accessible to a large audience. What does school finance litigation mean? How does it come about? Whom does it affect? What options and outcomes does it make available to communities? These are among the many questions and practical considerations addressed in this Guide.The Guide is divided into three sections:An introductory section explains why public engagement and community involvement are critical in the fight for public school resources, and how community-based organizations can play active and direct roles in helping to secure resources for public schools.The second section explains how education finance policy is made in theory and practice. Historically, what has been the role of the legislature, the court, and the school district in the policymaking process?The third section explores where local education funds ("LEF") and other communitybased organizations fit into this process. We articulate a four-phase approach for community-based organizations to impact school finance litigation. Each phase is illustrated by an example of a support role played by an LEF or other community-based organization.Litigation is usually subject to lengthy delays, often lasting years, even after a court finds an existing education system unconstitutional. The reasons are often political. Elected officials feel little urgency to reach a solution that may be unpopular with the public. In the delay we lose sight of the real issues -- children, teachers, and classrooms. And children continue to go to school under a system that has been found to be unconstitutional. Our hope and belief is that, with a sharpened focus on children, teachers, and classrooms, brought to bear by public engagement efforts, public pressure will move lawsuits along expeditiously to ensure that all children receive a quality public education.

National Civic Index for Quality Public Education Toolkit

November 27, 2007

It is commonly assumed that the responsibility for education lies solely with schools. However all educators, students, family members, community members and organizations, public officials, businesses, media, policy makers, and postsecondary institutions share responsibility for providing a quality education to all our children and youth. Each of us has to step up and fulfill our role in supporting quality public education.The National Civic Index for Quality Public Education (Index) is a tool to help identify the areas in which communities excel and the areas where communities need assistance in supporting public education.This introduction is the gateway to using the index in your community as well as the nation. As you work your way through these materials keep this question in mind: How can you use the information and suggestions included in this material to help you build stronger community involvement in public education?

Civic Index for Education

Greater New Orleans Education Foundation: A Commitment to Rebuilding a Better New Orleans

August 28, 2007

With support from the Ford Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Education Foundation (GNOEF) participated in Public Education Network's Gulf States Initiative, which was 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 GNOEF, with moving their communities toward different and more substantial forms of responsibility for their schools.

Handbook for Education Excellence: Building & Sustaining a Vibrant Local Education Fund

November 9, 2006

Public Education Network (PEN), a network of local education funds (LEFs) serving communities throughout the United States and around the world, has developed a handbook to help launch new LEFs and to maximize the capacity and effectiveness of existing organizations. Local education funds are independent, nonprofit organizations at the center of reform efforts to improve public education and reconnect people to the institution of public education. In developing this handbook, PEN drew upon the experience of almost 100 LEFs, many of whom are pioneers and leading innovators in education reform.The handbook begins with a brief introduction to the structure and mission of Public Education Network and then goes on to provide step-by-step information on how to establish and run a local education fund. It is designed to be a reference for those starting an LEF, as well as an operational tool and checklist for leaders of existing LEFs. Building public demand and mobilizing resources for quality public education so that all children, irrespective of race or income level, can achieve to their full potential is a great challenge. We hope this handbook will provide you with the tools you will need to take up this vital work and will serve as an ongoing resource in the years ahead.

State Accountability System: Action Guide for Parents and Communities

October 29, 2006

NCLB requires that each state develop and implement a single, state wide accountability system assuring that each public school district and all public and elementary schools make adequate yearly progress based on the components reviewed in this guide.

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