The decisions our state leaders make on education during this legislative session will either help ensure prosperity or result in devastating of consequences for many Connecticut students.

That was the overarching theme of recent testimony at the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Appropriations hearing earlier this month. During that hearing, hundreds of testifiers expressed great concern that without the proper funding and support, their school won’t be able to provide a great education for its students.

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Speaker after speaker, from all types of public schools, pleaded with legislators and urged them to fund, protect, support, and in some cases, save their high-quality schools. It’s clear that families are worried that their child’s school may be left behind.

Their pleas should be an alarm that echoes across our capitol.

We are undoubtedly in a tough fiscal environment and our legislators will have to make some difficult decisions, but in order to ensure a world-class education for our children, and a bright and prosperous economic future for Connecticut, our state’s leaders must act boldly and make investments in schools that are delivering results for students.

With 40,000 students attending chronically low-performing schools, many thousands of families on wait lists for schools of choice, and the largest-in-the-nation achievement gap, Connecticut leaders must expand and sustain schools that are delivering results for students, especially children in poverty and children of color.

With limited resources this session, Connecticut leaders must make some tough decisions to deliver on the promise of a great public education for all students.

We urge the Appropriations Committee, the General Assembly, and our governor to continue progress on efforts to provide every student with great teachers and principals, and further the implementation of rigorous academic standards that set our students up for success in college and career.

Our leaders must sustain and expand access to high-quality options to meet the need and demand of Connecticut’s families.  We must also strengthen our efforts to turn around our lowest-performing schools, and, ultimately, fix our state’s outdated, inequitable, and fundamentally broken school-funding system.

No child in Connecticut should be denied the opportunity to get the great education he or she needs and deserves. It is now up to our state leaders to realize this goal by investing in efforts to improve public education, especially for our students most at-risk.

If our state leaders do not prioritize this goal today, Connecticut stands to lose mightily tomorrow. Our state can’t afford to let that happen.

Jennifer Alexander is the CEO of ConnCAN.

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