The state’s largest business organization today urged lawmakers to adopt Governor Malloy’s education reform package, calling his legislative proposals “an opportunity to realize meaningful reform.”

“We need to do better,” John Rathgeber, CBIA's president and CEO, told the Education Committee. “Every student in Connecticut deserves a chance to reach their potential.

“With the largest achievement gap in the United States and with our overall performance slipping relative to states like Texas and the Dakotas, it is time to act.”

Speaking in support of SB 24, An Act Concerning Educational Competitiveness, Rathgeber said the measures outlined in the bill should be addressed as a package.

“The recommendations in this bill are well thought out and offer the opportunity to realize meaningful education reform that will improve overall academic outcomes and close the achievement gap,” he said.

“However, it is critically important to understand that these measures work together to form a framework for reform; they are interconnected and we urge this committee and the legislature as a whole to pass this bill substantially as drafted.”

Rathegeber noted that with 10,000 members, CBIA represents the broad diversity of Connecticut’s private sector enterprises, national leaders in productivity and innovation that rely on a vibrant workforce to remain economically competitive.

“CBIA’s membership faces numerous challenges as they compete in the the global, 21st century economy,” he said. “One of the most profound long-term issues Connecticut businesses face is the lack of skilled help to fill positions that require proficiency in math and the sciences as well as training in highly technical fields like precision manufacturing.

“Adoption of this package is a necessary and significant first step down the road to educational excellence. Connecticut’s businesses are relying on our public schools to graduate the best and the brightest in the country, and our children are depending on all of us to ensure that they have access to a world class education in order to live rich, fulfilling lives as citizens of our great state.”

Earlier in the day, the Governor told committee members he proposed to restore Connecticut’s education system "into a national model of excellence for all and help advance an economic revival for the state."

“There has never been a moment when jobs and education have been more connected and dependent on one another,” he said.

“For the sake of our state’s economic competitiveness – if we are to continue to make strides and create jobs in this state, as we have over the last 14 months – it is imperative that we transform the public system in which our students learn and prepare for college and a career.”