States

Connecticut Education Commissioner Pryor Announces Departure

By Andrew Ujifusa — August 18, 2014 1 min read

Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor will leave his position by January, Pryor and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Aug. 18.

Pryor was appointed to his position by Malloy in September 2011, after being recommended to the governor by the state school board.

“Thanks to the great work of superintendents, principals, teachers, local boards, parents and advocates, we’ve laid the groundwork for Connecticut’s continuing success in providing a high-quality education to all of our young people—regardless of income or ZIP code,” Pryor said in a statement announcing his departure.

Malloy in turn praised the improved graduation rates and other changes to the state’s education system under Pryor, saying, “We needed someone who could act as a change agent, and Stefan fulfilled that role admirably.”

During his tenure, Pryor worked with Malloy to boost resources for early education in the state, and he also worked to expand the state’s network of charter schools. But he was attacked for his deep-rooted and extensive support for charter schools. His support for changes to teacher tenure and the “Commissioner’s Network” of schools also attracted controversy. He eventually became a target for withering criticism from teachers’ unions in the state.

Before his time as the state’s K-12 chief, Pryor dealt extensively with urban policy: He previously worked for five years as deputy mayor for economic development in Newark, N.J., and also held jobs at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Partnership for New York City. He also co-founded a charter school in New Haven, Conn., the Amistad Academy, and served as the policy advisor to the mayor of that city from 1994 to 1997.

Amistad Academy eventually became part of the Achievement First network of charter schools, and Pryor in turn served on Achievement First’s board of directors.

The Hartford Courant notes that Malloy, a Democrat, is seeking re-election, and states that Pryor has become a “political liability” for the governor. A statement about Pryor on the governor’s website indicated that the commissioner is “actively seeking new professional opportunities” but didn’t provide more specifics about his plans.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.