Occasionally controversial and always provocative, Connecticut Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor spoke to a group of approximately 250 teachers, students, and community members at the Quick Center on October 2 about his plan for educational reform. His talk was sponsored by the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) as part of the University’s Arts and Minds series.
His talk, “Urban Educational Reform: A New Vision for Connecticut” began with the history of education in Connecticut, which was once seen as a leader in public education for the country. That’s no longer the case, said Pryor, who cited statistics that indicated quite clearly that the state has slipped from the top, envy-of-the-country, position it held a generation or two ago.
“Connecticut has the highest achievement gap in the country,” he said, citing the difference in testing levels between those in affluent districts and those in poor, urban areas. Fortunately, he says, Gov. Dannel Malloy is committed to education and has made closing this gap one of his top priorities.
Pryor spoke of some of the points outlined in the governor’s plan for educational reform. Lifting the performance of Connecticut schools, he said, begins with elevating the profession of teaching, and that can be achieved by raising the bar for entry into teacher preparation programs, tuition and loan forgiveness for teachers, and recognizing, coaching, and rewarding good teachers.
The plan for urban educational reform also includes “intensive” efforts to turn around the lowest performing schools, allocating more resources to targeted schools, and expanding high-performance models, including charters and magnets. The governor has also promised to streamline the red tape and numerous regulations that hamper teacher creativity.
A lively discussion period followed the lecture, with questions from a very engaged audience.
“Quality education for all of our children is vitally important and should be at the forefront of any
conversation about our future,” noted Theresa D. Tillinger, chair of the GSEAP Advisory Board and principal of St. Ann School in Bridgeport. “I am proud to be associated with Fairfield University and the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions that fostered this critical dialogue with Commissioner Pryor.”
A post-lecture reception with members of the GSEAP Advisory Board, faculty, and invited guests was held in the Walsh Art Gallery.
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