I can remember the day like it was yesterday…

Before returning to my home state of Connecticut, I had the honor to serve as a Principal in a Washington, DC Public School (DCPS) serving students with severe emotional disabilities.

I remember sitting in a leader professional development (PD) session where we were discussing a new report breaking down the achievement gap across the nation (What caused the gap? What strategies were being implemented to close it? Where were the most prevalent issues?) and seeing Connecticut, my home state, at the top of the list; it had the widest achievement gap in the nation.  How could that be? Growing up in Connecticut I had never heard about how poorly our schools were performing, never heard how deep the divide was between high- and low-income communities.  The Connecticut I’d known was a strong, powerful, “well-to-do” state–a state I’d felt did not need my help, a state I’d left after college so that I could work in places that did need me–the US Peace Corps, Teach for America in Hawaii, and New Leaders for New Schools in Washington, DC. Those places, which were struggling to serve their communities, needed my help; not Connecticut.

But during that PD session, I learned that I’d been wrong: Connecticut is struggling and does need help. And so I returned to help work on closing CT’s widest-in-the-nation achievement gap, to positively impact the lives of future generations, to do what I could to improve the educational systems within my home state.

We at CCER operate from a simple yet powerful premise: Every child deserves an exceptional education without exception. That is why I am here, because of a shared, unwavering belief that every child can learn at a high level and every child, regardless of race or income level, has the right to a high-quality education. This is not a Connecticut issue, or a Hartford issue, or a New Haven issue; it is a human rights issue, and that is why we do this work.

CCER has focused, over past legislative sessions, on having a deep impact on policy and public awareness around educational reform issues facing our communities. Recently, however, CCER has also begun to focus on supporting school districts, both large and small, in their efforts to implement specific education reform initiatives. This will be the heart of my work at CCER. We know that passing laws is only half the battle; the other half is in ensuring that school districts have the necessary and appropriate supports to implement new policies that promote growth and progress.

We don’t have all the answers here at CCER, but what we do have is a strong commitment to doing high-quality work in advocating for strong and effective policies that will positively impact children’s futures, raising public awareness around educational issues, and supporting schools and districts in their implementation of new reform initiatives.  We are prepared to be “thought partners” and “change agents” with a variety of struggling and broken school districts.

Yes, there has been a great deal of forward momentum both at the state and local levels, but clearly more needs to be done. I am thrilled to be a part of the important work ahead.