Universal preschool, programs to attract skilled teachers to low-income areas among recommendations

Peyton R. Patterson, former chairman, president & CEO of NewAlliance Bank, chairs the new Connecticut Council for Education Reform.

Business leaders from across Connecticut gathered in Hartford on July 12 to launch a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing sorely needed education reforms in the state.

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform picks up on the work of the Connecticut Commission on Education Achievement, which delivered a wide-ranging series of reform recommendations last year. The commission was established by Gov. Rell in March 2010 as a volunteer task force of business, education, and community leaders.

Latest Test Results

The new council's timing was impeccable. Shortly after the group's press conference, the State Department of Education released a report showing that fewer than half of Connecticut's high school students meet math, science, reading, and writing goals.

"This is not acceptable for students. This is not acceptable for parents or for the state's business and economic well-being," Council Chair Peyton R. Patterson told CT News Junkie. "It is safe to say the achievement gap affects all of us."

Connecticut has the largest educational achievement gap in the country, with students from low-income families scoring well below more affluent students on standardized tests.

Patterson noted the significant economic impact of educational failure, with high school dropouts having an unemployment rate more than double that of graduates.

The council will campaign for implementation of the commission's sweeping recommendations, which include:

  • Full-day kindergarten
  • Universal preschool
  • More remediation for 40,000 students
  • Longer school days and an extended school year
  • More subsidies for preschool for low-income students
  • Programs to attract highly qualified teachers in defined shortage areas

Reform Must Be a Priority

CBIA President and CEO John Rathgeber, a member of the commission and the newly launched council, said the state must treat reform as a priority, even in these tough economic times.

"The council looks forward to working with Gov. Malloy, his administration, and legislators on an education reform package that raises the overall academic performance of all students and helps close the achievement gap," he said.

"Connecticut must adopt real reforms that will help our students graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to become productive, positive contributors to society and leaders of our future economy."

Council Directors & Staff

  • Peyton R. Patterson, Chair, Former Chairman, President & CEO, NewAlliance Bank
  • Steven J. Simmons, Chairman & CEO, Simmons/Patriot Media & Communications
  • Ramani Ayer, Retired Chairman & CEO, The Hartford
  • Roxanne Coady, President & Founder, R.J. Julia Booksellers
  • William W. Ginsberg, President & CEO, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
  • John R. Rathgeber, President & CEO, CBIA
  • Dudley N. Williams, Jr., Director of District Education Strategy, GE Asset Management Group
  • Staff: Shana Kennedy-Salchow & Pei Pei Ma, Former Commission Co-directors

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