Connecticut Shakes Up Education Bureaucracy

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, January 19, 2012

Connecticut’s Board of Education voted Wednesday to drastically reorganize the state education department, a move that offers a sneak peak at an expansive school-reform package expected in next month’s legislative session.

The reorganization fashions Connecticut’s long-struggling agency after those in New York, Newark and New Orleans, creating five new posts intended to align the bureaucracy with promises Gov. Dannel Malloy has made to improve the troubled public-school system.

“There’s forward-looking reform happening in this country, there’s not enough happening in Connecticut — not yet,” said Stefan Pryor, a former economic development director from Newark, N.J. appointed in September as education commissioner. “Our performance is getting eclipsed by other states, and we have the largest achievement gap in the country. It’s shameful.”

For the first time, the department will have a chief turnaround officer tasked with leading a new state intervention efforts in low-performing schools and districts. Pryor said the turnaround official will also build on some of the governor’s campaign promises: to promote public-school choice and bolster magnet and charter schools.

Another new position, chief accountability officer, will combine oversight of academic standards and assessment. The newly-appointed role is necessary, Pryor said, because it’s “critical that curriculum and instruction do not operate in isolation but they be perpetually informed by a standards and assessment system that helps drive it.”

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