Connecticut Needs to Join the Movement to Reform Schools

03.13.2009
Issues & Policies

Young people should have the best education possible, both for their own benefit and to help produce the kind of skilled workforce that’s needed in the global economy—a goal that was championed in Hartford this week and echoed by President Obama as he unveiled his national education reform proposals.

CBIA testified at the State Capitol this week in support of SB-944, which would bring much-needed reforms to Connecticut’s public high schools and technical schools. The proposal would give local school districts the option to adopt a statewide curriculum that calls for higher graduation standards designed to graduate young people better prepared for their futures.

Lauren Kaufman, CBIA vice president and executive director of the association’s Education Foundation, said, “Although these are very difficult economic times, Connecticut needs to commit to the goal that every school district will adopt standards that will make sure our students have the skills and abilities they will needed to succeed in life. CBIA believes these standards should be Connecticut’s graduation requirements by 2015.” 

Districts as diverse as Hartford and Simsbury have already put most of these standards in place, but it should be expected that all of Connecticut’s students master core high school studies.

In addition, CBIA supports putting back the requirement for two years of world language, which would better prepare Connecticut’s students for participation in the global economy.

We’re already in danger of falling behind competitively. Twenty-three states have adopted more rigorous curriculum and graduation standards. Fourteen additional states are expected to do the same in 2009.

Even in the midst of a budget crisis, Connecticut should at least commit to setting set higher standards and expectations for all of its students, so that when the economy revives and employment opportunities increase, our young people will be prepared to take advantage of them. Given the bill’s 2015 date for full implementation, CBIA believes that districts would have time to prepare for any needed changes, while federal stimulus funds would allow the Department of Education to invest in a student data tracking system and 21st-century curriculum development.

Outlining his education initiatives this week, President Obama said the problem with education in America “is untenable for our economy … and unacceptable for our children, and we cannot afford to let it continue.”

The business community understands that because of the fiscal crisis there is a great need to reduce state spending, as well as the ongoing fear of unfunded mandates. However, in order to prepare effectively for the future, CBIA recommends starting the initiative within available funds— which would be a great step forward to ensure the future success of Connecticut’s students.

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