Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) released the following statement today re: on SB 24 AN ACT CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL REFORM.

May 8, 2012

“The beginning of this legislative year was filled with hope and prospects for meaningful change in our educational system.

“There is much in this bill to like and dislike – that is the true art of the compromise. Neither side is comfortable with all aspects of the bill.

“However there are two aspects that for me are the most significant and may do the most to address our achievement gap. These two issues have been moved forward by the Black and Latino Caucus they include:

  • new school readiness spaces
  • early reading readiness

HB 5350 AN ACT CONCERNING THE EXPANSION OF THE PILOT STUDY OF BEST PRACTICES IN EARLY LITERACY AND CLOSING ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT GAPS that would have universal literacy by the third grade as a goal has been incorporated into this bill and it has greatly improved it.

“Will this bill prove to be the kind of reform that will improve the prospects for all children no matter their income level, increase respect for teachers and elevate teaching?

“Only time will tell and the federal government will let the state know if it agrees that we have taken a step in the right direction with much needed education dollars that Connecticut has failed to garner in the past.

“I have much appreciation for the enormous effort expended by so many groups at all levels that have worked tirelessly to bring forward many well thought out proposals included in this bill. And we are grateful to past and current administrations that have been dedicated to educational quality. We should also thank a talented and passionate Commissioner and to my colleagues who care so deeply for our children.

“We may disagree on methodology but not on the outcome we wish to achieve.

“My unusual journey to this general assembly started with my local board of education and state board of education service. As such- this journey for me has always been about education.

“As an immigrant child of poor and uneducated parents who spoke no English, I formed my values, goals and ethics from an early age because of their guidance. Their daily message was that education is everything. They told me education is the way out of poverty and the path to freedom.

“Further, their respect for the educated, for teachers and the teaching profession was impressed upon us every day. They believe as I do that teaching is the noblest of all professions.

“We have been known to often say that we run for office to make a difference. What I have learned is that “making a difference” is extremely elusive. There are few endeavors that can truly make a difference.

“There are only two places where we have a real fighting chance to make a lasting, life-altering difference- in the home and in the classroom. And if the home fails a child, there is only one place left, the classroom.

“As such, a teacher assumes society’s greatest responsibility and has an enormous influence in a young person’s life. The future potential of our children and workforce that must increasingly compete on a global scale depends on them.

“That is why Raymond Neag made the largest contribution in the country to a school of education when he donated $21 million to UCONN. Mr. Neag did not donate to the school of engineering that he graduated from, but to the school of education.

“He understood teachers laid the early foundation for his success. Teaching is hard work but it can make an indelible impact on a child’s life forever. I know that everyone in this chamber is grateful to our teachers and we thank them.”

Sen. Boucher is ranking member on Education and Higher Education Committees