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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PEN National Civic Index Analysis

June 1, 2008

See Results of 2008 National Civic Index Poll, conducted by Lake Research.

Civic Index for 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

Case Study: Teacher Induction Durham Public Education Network (DPEN)

November 7, 2007

In March 2003, the Durham Public Education Network (DPEN) convened hundreds of public leaders in the community for a high-profile signing ceremony. They were gathered to sign a one-page community covenant would that allow the community to hold district and community leaders accountable for supporting school improvement.

Catalysts for Change: Three Case Studies of Quality Education Worldwide

October 5, 2007

Public education is the cornerstone of democracy and is absolutely fundamental to a democratic, civil and prosperous society. Beyond the boundaries of the United States, other countries are working to provide quality education to their children through civil society institutions. In particular, there are three extraordinary organizations in Peru, Mexico and the Philippines dedicated to making quality education available to their youth. These PEN members are the subjects of the studies contained within Catalysts for Change.

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."

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.

Crafting a Civic Stage for Public Education: Understanding the Work and Accomplishments of Local Education Funds

November 7, 2005

The Education Fund in Miami and other local education funds (LEFs) across the country have toiled for more than two decades -- often behind the scenes -- to strengthen public schooling and raise the academic achievement of students in lowincome communities. With support and leadership from Public Education Network (PEN), local education funds have educated citizens in almost 90 communities across the United States about important public education issues and mobilized community coalitions to bring much-needed resources and give input to public schooling policy discussions. LEFs have also worked directly with districts, schools, students, and parents to bring robust innovation to public education and institutionalize high-quality programs and practices that strengthen children's learning. Like Miami's Education Fund, LEFs throughout the country have made education a civic enterprise in their communities. In this report, we argue that local education funds are uniquely positioned to create a supportive civic environment for improving public education. Historically underappreciated, a civic environment that supports school reform has more recently been recognized by researchers and public education advocates as a necessity. This report identi?es key elements of such an environment and shows how LEFs contribute to its existence. We also argue that local education funds are highly adaptive organizations that customize their change strategies to particular communities. While the individual nature of each LEF may obscure the overarching values, purposes, and goals that these organizations share -- thus masking their collective identity -- customization is at the heart of why LEFs are such effective change agents. They apply deep knowledge of local contexts and strong commitment to core values in order to make strategic decisions about how to position themselves and their work in the local reform landscape. After more than 20 years of work in public education, LEF leaders and PEN continue to be forward-looking in their insistence on research that examines the role and accomplishments of LEFs. In August 2003, at PEN's request, Research for Action (RFA) began to lay a foundation for understanding and assessing how LEFs carry out their missions and how they demonstrate success. In this report we offer stories of LEF work and suggest a conceptual model for understanding the decisions LEFs make as they shape their organizational identity and an approach to their work.

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