State Senate Candidate Deecken: Education Is An Economic Driver

Rich Deecken, a Bassick High School history teacher running for State Senate in the 22nd District against incumbent Marilyn Moore, issued the following statement regarding education policy in Connecticut:

A world class education system is an economic driver. Years ago, talent would move to where businesses were located to obtain employment. Now businesses are moving to where the talent is located and we can all agree the talent pool has opted to leave Connecticut and many businesses have followed suit.

While Connecticut is given high marks for education, we are unfortunately situated in an area of the country where neighboring states also receive high marks for education, and people are opting to move to those states. Connecticut is currently ranked 5th nationally in education for grades pre-k through 12 by US News & World Report; however, we are ranked lower than first-ranked Massachusetts and second-ranked New Jersey. It is important to note that over the last 7 years, both these states added over 200,000 new residents, while Connecticut has only added 8,000 residents.

While it’s great to be ranked in the top five, it’s better to be first. We can only start on that road to higher achievement if the educational community acknowledges that we are being outperformed than our neighbors, and that it’s time to raise our expectations. We must do better. If we don’t, we will continue to cede more residents, jobs, businesses, and opportunities to our tri-state and New England neighbors.

Education as occupational/skilled labor training:

Bassick High School, where I currently teach, has recently begun the process to adopt an Advanced Manufacturing curriculum, which will function alongside local colleges and universities to prepare students for careers by delivering focused training in specific trades. Graduates who successfully complete the program will earn, in addition to their high school diploma, a certification in their trade, which will demonstrate their skills and allow them to apply for jobs in trades otherwise only open to older applicants.

This offering should be expanded to public high schools throughout Connecticut, giving students more opportunities, as well as promoting job growth and economic redevelopment by demonstrating to businesses that our schools are producing well-trained, job-ready graduates–a perfect pool of applicants for openings offered by their companies.

Closing the achievement gap:

We must expand access to child care and early childhood education. Studies prove that such access promotes higher academic achievement and career readiness. In urban areas, the community school model has been proven to help meet the social-emotional and healthcare needs of students and families, while providing important academic and extracurricular support.

In recent years, Bassick has embraced the community school model, and while it was postponed due to administrative turnover and budget cuts, this system can work in harmony with any curriculum, and is a path worth exploring.

Equitable school funding:

Education Cost Sharing funds must be guaranteed to all school districts. School funding must never be subject to arbitrary whims of political leaders, but instead, must be distributed fairly among all districts and should not be held hostage in state budget negotiations.

The special education overcourse–the amount of budget overages the state covers–should be increased from 33%, allowing for all students with special needs to receive a quality education without unfairly penalizing the municipalities for the amount of special ed students they have.

Final thoughts:

Connecticut is amid an employment crisis that risks turning into a death spiral. Our economy’s sluggish job growth must be enhanced by targeted funding toward educational programs and infrastructure. By embedding occupational training alongside the standard high school curriculum, Connecticut’s employable pool of skilled labor can become better suited for the 21st century work environment and Bridgeport’s diverse set of specialized high schools can lead the way in showing that our state is open for business.



  1. No kidding.. Deecken. But Connecticut suburbs won’t pay for a world- class education in the CT. urban areas. I know Deecken teaches in Bassick High School. Then he should even be more aware of the disparity between suburban and urban schools. The status quo will remain,because in CT,it is not Democrats versus is Suburban versus Urban legislators—regardless of political affiliation.

  2. It seems most high schools have steered away from the trades. Kids need exposure to the trades and there need to be programs where kids could go to work after they graduate. Too many are Ill prepared for college or for those who do graduate how long is it before they land a job in their field? For sure they are going to have student loans to pay back.

    The trade unions could introduce students to electrical,welding carpentry and plumbing. All of these vocations have a high earning potential. These unions could partner with places like Electric Boat for example. Find companies that would offer apprentice programs.

    Bridgeport does not have the factories it once had but there is a world outside of Bridgeport. Having a trade can potentially open a lot of doors for local students.

  3. Deecken is not going to garner support in the other 2 municipalities in the 22nd Senate District by suggesting more state spending for Bridgeport schools. More than 70% is already funded by the other 168 towns/cities in CT.
    What Deecken suggests calls for a tax increase.

    As for his comments about the new program at Bassick: ” Graduates who successfully complete the program will earn, in addition to their high school diploma, a certification in their trade, which will demonstrate their skills and allow them to apply for jobs in trades otherwise only open to older applicants.” He conveniently ignores the huge NON-GRADUATION rate at Bassick.
    Anyone taking bets on how long the newest principal will last? He was asst. principal at Harding under failed principal McPherson..who got demoted to 3rd asst principal at Bassick.

    I’m a supporter of city public schools, but just throwing more money at them with the same old administration is a joke.

  4. What I like about the Democratic Party:
    It’s a big tent.
    It’s big enough to include a candidate who’s pro-growth and anti-tolls.
    He’s the upstart with upside.
    Democrats for Deecken (R).
    You don’t have to change parties, just change your mind.
    Make the switch.

  5. The drop out rate in Bridgeport is high,too high. Perhaps if more students found a good paying job from learning a trade perhaps this might help reduce the drop out rate.

  6. Deecken is in the urban, high school trenches and is espousing a clearly-indicated education-agenda component that can only help Connecticut, urban high school students and the state economy. Senator Moore would do well to attend to the very important issues of urban education and job development… Senator Moore seems much more concerned with aiding and abetting suburban abuse of Bridgeport, per their piracy of Bridgrpory resources, with impunity, and their related, problematic overdevelopment on Bridgeport’s borders — causing major flooding and traffic problems in those areas… Senator Moore should be retired for neglecting her urban constituents in favor of kissing the asses of her pseudo-Democrat, suburban constituent-supporters who have the temerity to indicate that the needs of Bridgeport and its high school students are somehow unworthy of an excellent education and should be denied… Senator Moore’s heart is in Trumbull. She should move there and make a run for Vicki Tesoro’s First Selectman’s seat— with the sage assistance of Trumbull’s biggest pseudo-Democrat, Moore fan, Marshall Marcus…

    1. @Jeff………..
      You are so wrong. Bridgeport students are entitled to a good education. Unfortunately the Bridgeport BOE, and BPS are not providing it. The money wasted is astronomical. Keep switching curiculum and trashing millions of dollars in unused textbooks/workbooks. All those unopened cases of Math in Focus and Science Fusion rotting in storerooms is an affront to taxpayers.
      I’d like to see regional schools systems, fully funded by state dollars with an equal amount spent on all students (with corresponding drops in local property taxes).
      We don’t need 150+ Superintendents of Schools each making more than $150,00 each year. But no municipality wants to give up its control or ability to fill jobs through patronage.
      As for divided loyalties from state legislators who serve multiple communities, maybe you can urge reapportionment to gain a State Senate District wholly within Bridgeport borders. We’d happily share with another community.

      1. Marshal, what absolutely unsubstantiated comments about the BOE and the BPS.Unlike Trumbull, we have been the most underfunded school district in CT for three decades. Trumbull schools are fully funded.

        Wasn’t one of your former BOE members repeatedly caught drunk driving?

        1. Mr. Wright hadn’t been a member of the Trumbull BOE for 5 years when he was arrested for Drunk Driving. He was a member of the State BOE at the time.

          You are welcome to fund Bridgeport public schools fully from Bridgeport taxes. That’s how the schools are funded in Trumbull.
          That’s why I want regional schools paid for by state taxes at equal per student expenditures.
          I’ve seen too much duplication and waste at local levels and too much political interference.

          After being attacked by a student and suffering a concussion this past June in a Bpt public school I am not returning anytime in the foreseeable future. I am placing my education effirts elsewhere.

          Maria, you put the students first, I can’t make that observation about all the rest of the Bpt BOE, or BOE admin staff.

  7. In response to your comment of reinventing the wheel. There was a time when there were other high schools that offered trade classes. When I was at Central they offered many. If you go by there now,the old auto shop is now a classroom.

    You may save more from dropping out if you gave them other choices. The Bridgeport education system is in bad shape no question. There should be some oversight committee to see where money is being spent how much and why. The schools should do a better job making sure students have the necessary and current tools.


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