It’s hard to imagine Dr. James P. Comer’s request to the state Board of Education coming at a more critical time.
Just minutes after Bridgeport residents pleaded unsuccessfully with the board Wednesday not to reconstitute that city’s Board of Education, Comer, a renowned Yale psychiatrist and researcher, asked the state agency for its permission to approach low-achieving school districts in Connecticut and ask them to take part in his national program designed to close the achievement gap between urban and suburban schools.
Following his 30-minute presentation, the state education board “enthusiastically” approved Comer’s request, which he said would now allow him to apply for a private, $15 million grant to undertake the project.
Comer said he wants to get 50 under achieving elementary schools in urban districts in Connecticut involved in his School Development Program, which aims to improve educational outcomes in schools that have large populations of minority children. The goal, Comer said, is to close the achievement gap between minority students and their suburban, largely white, counterparts.
His program also has been used in hundreds of schools in more than 20 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, England, and Ireland.