Proposals that will “drive real reform” are going to win this year’s round of Race to the Top federal education funding, says U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

That’s one of the major reasons why state lawmakers should be sure to pass SB- 438 before the legislative session ends on May 5. Contained in the proposal are some of the basics of significant high school reform that Connecticut needs in order to build and maintain a highly skilled workforce for the 21st century.

They also are vitally important to ensure productive futures of our young people who must have to have those skills in order to succeed in life. Among other things, SB-438 calls for:

  • Raising the bar on high school graduation standards
  • Removing the cap on high-achieving charter schools
  • Providing systems for capturing data on students’ academic performance
  • Promoting the alternate route to teacher certification, to bolster Connecticut’s high school faculties with people with workplace experience

The proposal forms an excellent starting point for improving our high schools. Most important, it will significantly boost Connecticut’s Race to the Top application by demonstrating the state’s commitment to serious reform.

That’s important, because 23 other states have already aligned their curricula to standards similar to those proposed in SB-438, and 21 more state are in the planning process. The standards envisioned by SB-438 will increase graduation rates and provide students with more opportunities to participate in hands-on learning.

The Connecticut State University System already has made these standards part of college entrance requirements, and they should also be made part of Connecticut’s public school system.

This is the year the legislature is supposed to help Connecticut jobs and the economy—SB-438 (as amended by LCO 4541) is a way to do that.