Business Leaders Launch Education Reform Group

07.13.2011
Workforce

Business leaders from around Connecticut gathered in Hartford Tuesday to launch a non-profit organization dedicated to pushing 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 group’s timing was impeccable. Shortly after the council’s press conference finished, the State Department of Education released a report showing less 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 Payton R. Patterson told CT News Junkie. “It is safe to say the achievement gap affects all of us.”

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

Paterson 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 council’s sweeping recommendations, which included:

  • 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

CBIA president and CEO John Rathgeber [pictured above], a member of the commission and the newly launched council, said the state must treat reform as a priority, despite the current budget crisis.

“Gov. Malloy’s administration has supported the need for more pre-kindergarten education,” he said. “Closing the achievement gap starts before children reach elementary school.

“It clearly became evident everywhere we went that having kids ready to learn when they entered kindergarten was essential if they were going to be able to meet the standards of reading and math.”

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