Rodgerson highlights education platform in 143rd District rep race

Keith Rodgerson discusses education issues with Wilton High School students.
Keith Rodgerson discusses education issues with Wilton High School students.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Updated 1:30 p.m. Wednesday with Lavielle response, again at 7:45 p.m. with additional information.

NORWALK, Conn. – Democrat Keith Rodgerson, facing the task of trying to unseat popular state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143), has made education one of his top priorities.

The Wilton resident released his education platform recently, calling for STEM strengthening, more universal pre-k, the expansion of the University of Connecticut system and increases in the Educational Cost Sharing funding.

“I am the product of the Connecticut public educational system and I value the education I received,” the former Bridgeport city councilman said. “I returned with my family from New Haven to Fairfield County so that my 4-year-old child could have the same opportunity. Unfortunately, I share the worry of many other parents in this region that these opportunities are at risk. I pledge to bring my energy and commitment to the community to leverage additional state funds for education and building construction in Norwalk, Wilton and Westport. As a parent I cannot allow my child’s education to become a political football in Hartford.”

Rodgerson said he supports increases to public school Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) funding – an evergreen position on everyone’s hit list – and also advocated for increases in universal Pre-K, and the expansion of the UConn system “that my opponent stood against in 2014,” said Rodgerson. “Additionally, we need to strengthen STEM in the high schools, trade programs, private partnerships, and connections to institutions of higher learning. We must build off language programs like the Japanese program at Brien McMahon to educate our 21st century workforce.”

Rodgerson took a swipe at Lavielle for what he said was a lack of support for Lesbina, Gay Bisexual and Transgender students.

“Our legislators must support legislation that prohibits LGBT discrimination in public schools and school activities. Rep. Gail Lavielle has voted against such measures. Our legislators must never legitimize bigotry and bullying. I will use this office to share my vision for acceptance and diversity in our society.”

Lavielle responded Wednesday morning and disputed the assertion.

“I did not vote against prohibiting bullying of LGBT students,” she said. “On the contrary. I voted for it three times. PA 11-232 (SB 1138) was passed in 2011 and included specific new provisions prohibiting and preventing bullying of LGBT students.

“I voted for the bill in the Education Committee: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/TS/S/2011SB-01138-R00ED-CV29-TS.htm

“I voted for the bill again in the Appropriations Committee: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/TS/S/2011SB-01138-R00APP-CV166-TS.htm

“And it then passed in the House on consent, which meant that everyone agreed to vote for it and it was placed on the consent calendar.”

Lavielle did vote against HB 6599 – Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Gender Identity or Expression in 2011.  That bill passed , 77-62. There were no Republican “yea” votes. Bruce Morris (D-140) joined the Republicans in voting against the bill. Chris Perone (D-137) voted in favor, and Terri Wood (R-141) did not vote.  The Senate approved the bill 20-16. Sen. Bob Duff (D-25) voted for the bill. Republicans were unanimously opposed.

Rodgerson also said he supports the elimination of all participation fees for students. “Extracurricular athletics and clubs are part of a well-rounded education and all children should be allowed the opportunity to participate no matter what their financial circumstances,” he said.

Rodgerson criticized his opponent’s unwillingness to give waivers to families regarding athletic fees as a Wilton Board of Finance member.

“Residents need legislators who unequivocally support a child’s right to learn, grow, and be a part of the community regardless of their family’s financial or social status.”

Rodgerson highlighted the importance of transparency and the need to curtail lobbyist influence.

“Some of our representatives in Connecticut have chosen to vote on education reform legislation behind closed doors on our behalf with industry groups like ALEC that funded Common Core. I support open government and a parent-teacher focused learning system.”

Rodgerson noted the growing influence of industry and special interest lobbyists on New England education: “We need to continue to scale back the rollout of Common Core and let teachers teach and students learn. ‘Teaching to the test’ instead of teaching to the student is not an option. The path to addressing the nation’s widest education gap is not through mandating burdensome reporting and curricular changes. Teachers and parents need empowerment in structuring children’s education, not ALEC.”

Rodgerson also cited activism by organizations such as the Family Institute of Connecticut in this election cycle. “It is critical to our children’s well-being that our legislators draw distance from socially regressive forces advocating for bigotry and intolerance.  They are supporting the GOP candidate for governor and seek to undermine time-tested and critical family-life programs and our very society.”

The Rodgerson campaign and it supporters have tried to tie Lavielle to ALEC. On June 3, NancyOnNorwalk ran a story with Lavielle’s response, including an attached letter from ALEC dated May 29 saying she is not a member of the organization.

Rodgerson also cited the need for anti-smoking education and prevention.

“We cannot underestimate the lasting effect of smoking industry disinformation upon successive generations of Connecticuters. We must continue to be vigilant with our children in anti-smoking education and prevention.”

According to the CDC, 6.7 percent of middle schoolers currently use tobacco products, and if smoking persists at the current rate among youth in this country, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are projected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness.

The campaign’s supporters also have tried to tie Lavielle to tobacco giant Phillip Morris, claiming she was an upper-level spokeswoman for the company. Lavielle never worked for Phillip Morris, but worked for communications and marketing company Burson Marstellar, where she was assigned to the Phillip Morris account.

Rodgerson, an economic development finance professional, who is executive director of the Neighborhood District Economic Development Corporation in Bridgeport, also cited the need to modernize building regulations and to change funding ratios for school construction and rehabilitation.

“Towns and cities have a need for greater flexibility regarding the compactness of sites and design,” he said. “We need to mitigate the tax base impact of new school construction and expansion. Current ratios for school construction are leading to unsustainable local property tax increases. They create a preference for rehabilitation where new construction may be more economically and environmentally sustainable over the long term.”



Keith Rodgerson discusses education issues with Wilton High School students.


One response to “Rodgerson highlights education platform in 143rd District rep race”

  1. Nicole

    I don’t know who has come up with a better “time-tested and critical family-life program” than a mom and dad united in marriage, which is precisely what Family Institute advocates for…if that makes me a bigot, so be it.

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments