Wright heads to national forum

Trumbull’s former Board of Education chair, Stephen Wright, will be addressing national education issues this week during the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) 2014 Annual Legislative Policy Forum in Arlington, Va. The forum is March 13 and 14.

Wright, who chose not to run for re-election to Trumbull’s Board of Education during the last election, is still involved in both state and national education issues. In 2011, Gov. Dannel Malloy appointed him to the Connecticut State Board of Education, where he serves on the Policy Committee and Finance Committee. He is a member of the Government Affairs Committee for the National State Boards of Education (NASBE) and also serves as a member of its Achievement Gap Subcommittee.

During this week’s forum, he will be meeting with members of Congress and addressing a wide range of topics, including student health, broadband availability and digital learning.

Wright, who is an attorney at Goldman, Gruder & Woods, said he will be speaking to members of Congress about new educational law during the forum.

“The sun has set on every federal educational law we have,” Wright said. “It’s time to do something. They need to eliminate the penal spirit of past laws — labeling schools as failing, instead of in need of improvement. You look at those schools differently when you label them as failed.”

Wright said the national forum will also look at encouraging the FCC to vote to increase the “e-rate,” which are the charges the telephone providers pay that go to support Internet access in schools. The money from the increase would go toward putting broadband throughout the United States, allowing schools better access to technology.

“That’s like running water,” Wright said of broadband, “particularly important in rural areas.”

State issues

On more local issues, Wright hailed the state’s work to adopt Common Core standards, saying the standards are the best thing for students and teachers.

“They are empirically superior and age-appropriate — developed by educators,” Wright said of Common Core. “Trumbull has been switching to the standards and the concern was how it would affect standardized testing, but we went up, and that, for me, is good evidence of the superiority of the standards.”

The state board is currently working on adopting next-generation science standards and a mission statement for social studies standards.

“What it means is a better way of learning — the standards are far superior,” Wright said.

Wright is also on the executive committee of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) and was recently elected as its vice president of professional development, which is tasked with training members of local boards of education from around the state.

Wright, who focuses on bankruptcy and business and general litigation as an attorney, said he is looking to expand into some educational law. He hadn’t previously felt comfortable doing so, because of his elected position.

After nine years on the Trumbull Board of Education, Wright decided not to run for re-election, saying he thought he would make room for new members.

“When you think you know everything, it’s time to go,” Wright joked.