Members of the legislature's Black and Puerto Rican Caucus this week endorsed several key aspects of education reform, including a strong public school turnaround model and a teacher and administrator evaluation pilot that links classroom performance to opportunities and consequences.

[Above photo: Caucus members at the Capitol; from CT News Junkie report]

These crucial elements are currently not part of the education bill being debated in the last days of session and time is running out. 

Representing districts whose children would benefit the most from a serious education reform package, caucus members intensified the debate at the State Capitol. 

While negotiations have been ongoing over the final language of the education bill, the caucus’s press conference underscored the urgency of enacting key foundational elements this year.

Many caucus members represent cities and towns where the status quo in education has failed students for far too long. Connecticut has the worst achievement gap in the United States between low-income and wealthier students.

Children in these at-risk districts deserve the same opportunities to succeed as their suburban peers, and school turnaround initiatives and meaningful educator evaluations will help provide that opportunity.

A look across Connecticut's borders to neighboring states (Massachusetts and New York, for example) shows the positive results of implementing meaningful reforms.

As the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus works to advance its reform-minded agenda in the final days of the 2012 legislative session, others are also continuing the effort.

This should be the year of education in Connecticut—when the state finally takes aim at low graduation rates, plummeting academic outcomes, and a broken status quo.