Published Online: January 14, 2004
Published in Print: January 14, 2004, as State Journal

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Standing on Record

As he fights for his political life, Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland has been touting his record on education policy in making his case to the public that he should remain in office.

Estelle Matthis

In a speech last week in which he apologized for having lied about accepting gifts from state employees and business leaders who do work with the state, the Republican reminded listeners that K-12 and higher education have been among his top priorities in his nine-year tenure.

Hallmarks of Mr. Rowland's education agenda have included increased funding for school construction, efforts to improve literacy instruction in the early grades, and the expansion of access to preschool programs, particularly in urban areas. He's also backed school choice approaches such as charter and magnet schools, and, on occasion, has supported the idea of vouchers.

"Together, we have made great progress, but there is more work to do," he said in the Jan. 7 televised address. "This is the work that I want to carry forward."

Whether he gets that chance remains in doubt.

His administration is at the center of a widening probe by federal investigators looking into possible bribery and state bid-rigging. In particular, he's been stung by recent revelations—which he initially denied but later admitted—that members of his staff and political allies paid for work on his summer cottage.

Leaders of the state Democratic Party, which controls both chambers of the legislature, have called on Mr. Rowland to resign, and some have begun to talk of impeachment procedures. Poll results earlier this month showed that most Connecticut voters agreed he should step down.

As of late last week, however, the governor continued to say that he plans to stay put, and aides were still talking about his future plans to improve Connecticut's schools, which, on average, are among the top-performing in national comparisons.

"Connecticut remains a leader in student achievement," said John Wiltse, Mr. Rowland's deputy communications director. "His focus for the next three years will be on ensuring that that excellence isn't just limited to certain parts of the state."

—Jeff Archer

Vol. 23, Issue 18, Page 15

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