The headlines of 1996 did little to improve the image of public education in Connecticut.
The year began with the Hartford school board ousting Education Alternatives Inc., a for-profit school management company hired in hopes of turning the struggling urban district around.
Troubled by the district’s poor student performance, the Hartford City Council in May asked the mayor to seek state help by declaring a state of emergency. And in July, the state supreme court surprised observers when it ruled that Connecticut’s education system unconstitutionally allowed for racial and ethnic segregation. It asked lawmakers to fix the system.
Now, with an investment of $750,000, Connecticut’s largest teachers’ union is banking on a year of good news. Or, at least, better news.
The 30,000-member Connecticut Education Association has launched a media blitz designed to improve the image of the state’s schools. With the slogan “Your Public Schools: Great Places to Grow,” the campaign includes highway billboards, radio advertisements, and TV commercials.
“Too often, all the public hears is that the public schools are failing, and we’ve said enough is enough,” said CEA President Daria M. Plummer.
Polling by the union revealed that most Connecticut residents were satisfied with their local schools, but were concerned about the state of education in general, union officials said.
The campaign is countering with commercials highlighting an optimistic message: Three-quarters of Connecticut’s high school graduates continue their education.
The state has one of the top percentages of students passing Advanced Placement tests while in high school. Average scores of the state’s students on the SAT are the highest in 22 years.