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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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.

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