Norwalk's new superintendent of schools attended his first public event in Norwalk Thursday. Rivera was on-hand at Stepping Stones Children's Museum along with local officials to welcome students back to school.
"Literacy is the backbone of all that we do," Rivera says. "There's nothing more important than those early developmental years between birth and getting ready for kindergarten."
Rivera says he's met with some members of the community up to this point, but Thursday was his chance to engage local parents.
"It is critically important to reach out to parents, and for them to be directly involved in the education of their kids," Rivera says.
"I hope what [Rivera] wants to do comes," says Norwalk resident and parent Dawn Calle. "[All officials] want to do great things, it's just a matter of making them happen."
At a recent Board of Education meeting, Rivera noted while some Norwalk students still lag behind state standards in reading, some grades are outperforming the state, and Norwalk has gained ground since the current Connecticut Mastery Tests debuted in 2006.
"It's not satisfactory to say 50 percent of our kids are meeting standards, because that means 50 percent of them are not," he says.
"You can't blame anybody," Calle says. "You just want better."
Rivera says one solution is consistency in the city's K-5 literacy program.
"We'll have consistency across all of our schools," he says.
Thursday's event was co-sponsored by Norwalk ACTS.