Local Education Funds
Her trip to Illinois paid off in other ways: The university has invited her to apply for an assistantship that would cover tuition for her to work toward a Ph.D. in mathematics education. "If the fund hadn't informed me of the institute, I wouldn't have attended and this wouldn't have happened,'' she says. "It changed my life.''
Teachers in New Orleans can learn in detail what their local fund does by attending its monthly council meeting, where teachers report on the progress of projects and discuss new proposals. "In the past, ideas and implementation of ideas used to come from the [LEF's] staff,'' executive director Kimberly Sawyer says. "Now teachers come up with ideas, make plans, and decide what speakers and programs they want. It's teachers doing for teachers, and staff filling in where needed.'' There are many ways to become involved in the programs offered by local education funds. To attend most LEF-sponsored seminars or workshops, teachers must submit an application, some of which are extensive. Many programs are open to individual teachers; others are intended for entire schools or school departments. Gerri Kay of PEFNet, the LEFs' national organization, suggests that teachers call their local fund for details.
PEFNet also serves as a resource for teachers. It is in the process of incorporating, and next January will move from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., with a new board of directors and president. In its new form, PEFNet hopes to give LEFs a national presence and strengthen their efforts to improve schools, especially in low-income, urban areas. The organization expects to double the number of LEFs in the next five years. For more information, contact Public Education Fund Network, 600 Grant St., Pittsburgh, PA 15219; (412) 391-3236.