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.