Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that Connecticut children have another strong advocate in their corner for quality public education with the establishment of the Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement.

The volunteer and privately funded commission, which is composed primarily of business leaders and includes several other professionals, was established by Governor Rell through Executive Order No. 40. The group will research why Connecticut has one of the largest achievement gaps between low-income students and their more affluent peers, and make recommendations to the Governor, lawmakers, relevant state and local institutions and the public on how to close it.

“We all want the same things for our children, whether we are parents, teachers, employers, or the Governor – and that is top-notch education. The future leaders of Connecticut – in both commerce and community – are in our classrooms today. How we prepare them and how they respond will dictate the success of our society,” Governor Rell said.

“Connecticut has long prided itself on having one of the finest workforces in the nation, but this must be inclusive of every child in every neighborhood,” the Governor said. “The commission I have assembled is made up of those who have achieved success in a number of fields and, most importantly, those who have a passionate interest in helping all of our children succeed.”

The Governor has appointed Greenwich businessman Steven J. Simmons to serve as Chairman of the 11-member commission. Mr. Simmons is Chairman and CEO of Simmons/Patriot Media and Communications, LLC. A graduate of Cornell University and Harvard Law School, Mr. Simmons was previously a professor at the University of California, Associate Director of the Domestic Policy Staff at the White House, and is the author of several successful children’s books. Mr. Simmons approached the Governor recently and shared with her his strong desire to get others involved in helping Connecticut students succeed in the classroom.

“We are very gratified as a group that we have the support of Governor Rell on this important project,” Mr. Simmons said. “I felt as an individual citizen it was my obligation to try and do something about this critical issue. A distinguished group of business leaders and other outstanding citizens who feel the same way are joining in this effort.”

The group plans to hold hearings around the state, visit public schools, review research, and consult with all interested parties. Commission members will also look at successes in other states.

Commission members include:

  • Ramani Ayer, retired Chairman and CEO, The Hartford
  • David Carson, retired Chairman and CEO, Peoples Bank, Bridgeport
  • Roxanne Cody, President and Founder R.J. Julia Booksellers
  • William Ginsberg, President and CEO, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
  • Carla Klein, former teacher and member of the Bridgeport Public Education Fund
  • Yvette Melendez, Board Member of The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Former Chief of Staff Connecticut State University System
  • Peyton Patterson, Chairman, President and CEO, New Alliance Bank, New Haven Steve Preston, President & CEO of Oakleaf Waste
  • John Rathgeber, President and CEO, Connecticut Business & Industry Association
  • Dudley N. Williams, Jr., Director of District Education Strategy, GE Asset Management Group