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June 30, 2008

the Public Education Network (PEN) and its civic index

I believe that communities educate children, not just schools; and it is a false hope that we can achieve dramatically better results by tinkering with the structure of schools: their governance, funding, incentives, and regulations. Most experiments that focus narrowly on schools, from Reading First to privatization in Philadelphia, seem to fail. PEN, the Public Education Network, is a great leader in promoting this idea:

While there is a broad public understanding about the important role that schools play---teaching, learning, curriculum development, assessment, discipline, student development---few individuals in communities understand their civic role, whether they be parents, or adults without children in school, in contributing to quality public education for all students.

Communities provide the social, financial, and political capital that is crucial to school and student success. Citizens vote for elected leaders, pay taxes that fund schools, and also participate in powerful social networks that shape how schools and communities address the educational and developmental needs of young people. There is an inextricable link between high achieving schools and the community actions that support these schools. Without public action, there can be no quality public schools.

With a small assist from CIRCLE, PEN recently unveiled its "Civic Index for Quality Public Education," which is a survey that any community can conduct, compare its local results to national data, and develop strategies for improving civic engagement.

June 30, 2008 11:05 AM | category: education policy | Comments


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