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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

DeStefano makes announcement in Danbury

(crosspost from Hatcity blog)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John DeStefano came to Danbury to unveil his new education plan
Books for children in low-income homes and universal preschool are keys to closing the achievement gap between rich and poor students, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John DeStefano said.

His $73 million education plan called "Every Child Reads by Third Grade" could mean a tax increase for Connecticut's wealthiest residents."Wouldn't it be great if we could be a state where every third-grader reads at grade level?" said DeStefano, the New Haven mayor. "I want preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old to be a fundamental right."

One week before facing Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy in the Democratic primary Aug. 8, DeStefano unveiled his education plan at Mill Ridge Primary School.

DeStefano was joined by six campaign supporters, including former Danbury Mayor Gene Eriquez and former U.S. Rep. James Maloney of Danbury.

"The greatest investment we can make is in early childhood education," Eriquez said at the small rally.

DeStefano said he chose Mill Ridge because Danbury is one of the state's 19 priority school districts. These district have a large achievement gap. "This is a municipality that is not always thought of as distressed," DeStefano said.

Children from low-income families enter kindergarten with vocabularies of 5,000 words, DeStefano said, while children from high-income families enter kindergarten with vocabularies of 30,000 words.

To pay for the program, DeStefano wants to increase income taxes on residents making more than $1 million per year. He also wants to maintain the estate tax.

Specifically, the proposal would provide preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds.

The plan also calls for a Books for Children and Families program, in which the state would work with nonprofit groups to buy books for poor families, to encourage parents to read to their children.

Finally, the proposal calls for increasing the number of teachers who specialize in literacy for young children.