Public education is a fundamental component of any progressive society that has the potential to break the cycle of poverty and to equalize inequalities in society. While it holds plenty of promise, the public education system faces plenty of hurdles in successful implementation, including the government’s lack of political will, scarcity of relevant legislation for education reform, and perennial deficiencies in education funding. Emphasis on the importance of public education never wanes. However, it is impossible to truly reap the benefits from a successful public system of education unless education reform is carried out.
Achieving public education reform cannot be achieved by the government or the private sector alone. Reform needs to be systematic and collective to be effective. Here lies the relevance of the Public Education Network (PEN), a national association of individuals and organizations working to advance public education reform, especially in low-income communities across the United States. PEN believes that active community participation is the key to ensuring that every child in every community will benefit from public education.
PEN aims to build a national listing and network of individuals and organizations committed to free and quality public education. PEN and its affiliates consider public engagement and participation as the basis of any successful education reform initiative. They want to bring the voice of the community into local, state and national debates on public education.
The organization wants to build public demand and mobilize resources, financial and otherwise, to uplift the quality of the public education system – so that all children will be able to partake of the promises of a good education. In line with this goal, PEN has a network of Local Education Funds (LEF), which are community-based organizations committed to the uplifting of public education through active participation in education reform. LEFs are independent of the local school districts, but they work closely with administrators, teachers, parents, students, community leaders, and businesses.
PEN’s network of LEFs actively encourage partners and stakeholders in all sectors of society to take a more active role in promoting and maintaining a high quality of education in the public education system. They work toward instilling a sense of accountability and responsibility among students to strive for high standards in their education.
The network of LEFs likewise generate much-needed resources for the advancement of public education by facilitating and managing public grants from the government, and investments from businesses and other philanthropic organizations. Since the 1980’s, LEFs have already managed education funding in several states from the West Coast to the East Coast.
But more than financial support, PEN shares its deep wealth of knowledge and best practices earned through decades of experience with the public and the educational community to further boost the public school system of the United States. PEN also shares its knowledge with policy makers to assist the passage of education reform legislation. The organization supports a free exchange of ideas centered on the common goal of making public education a top priority in every community, for every child.