While it’s true that Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, has failed to fill some of the most critically important administrative positions in his agency that actually serve Connecticut’s schools and children, such as a Bureau Chief for the Special Education Division, Pryor’s dedication to retaining corporate education reform consulting companies and corporate education consultants is impressive.
Yesterday Wait, What? explored a $123,930.00 taxpayer-funded payment to Mass Insight Education, an education reform consulting company that has been retained to help develop Commissioner Pryor’s “Turnaround Network.”
Although the total magnitude of the consulting contract with Mass Insight hasn’t been reported, that initial six figure payment is chump change compared to the amount of taxpayer money that is being spent on the salaries and benefits of the consultants and education reformers who have been hired to surround Pryor at the Department of Education.
Leading the way is Chief Turnaround Officer, Debra Kurshan, who is pulling down $149,000 plus benefits. The former head of School Portfolio Development for Mayor Bloomberg’s school privatization efforts also served as a consultant to the superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District in New Orleans.
Meanwhile, another hire, Talent Officer, Shannon Marimon, is collecting $110,000 plus benefits. She joined Pryor’s operation after working for the TNTP, an education reform group. As the TNTP website explains, the majority of TNTP’s revenue comes from its work with clients on a fee-for-service basis. This approach incentivizes TNTP to meet the needs of its clients while continually assessing the value and cost-effectiveness of its services. The fee-for-service model also encourages TNTP’s clients to be motivated, active collaborators by literally “investing” them in the success of their partnerships with the organization.”
Then there is the growing list of Pryor’s “education staff assistants,” beginning with his chief of staff, Adam Goldfarb who followed him from New Jersey. Hired at $75,000, Goldfarb is now making $106,000 despite the fact that he has no professional education experience other than serving on the Board of a Charter School in Newark.
There is also Mark Day, the Director of Performance Management, who is getting $105,000. He joined the state payroll after working as an employee of McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm that advertises that it is “the trusted advisor to the world’s leading businesses, governments, and institutions. “
Add to that the two $95,000 education staff assistants who are interns from the Broad Foundation’s Residency Program, Gabrielle Ramos and Katina Grays. The Broad Foundation is one of the three largest pro-education reform foundations in the nation. Their motto is that they are “Transforming K-12 urban public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition.”
Despite the fact that the Broad Foundation has assets of $2.1 billion, the state of Connecticut is paying these two so they can work on Pryor’s education reform agenda while they are doing their Broad Foundation Residency.
And then there are the two law school students/TFA graduates, Andrew Ferguson and Collin Moore. One of whom is working as another one of Pryor’s education staff assistants, while the other is working in Pryor’s “Turnaround Office.” Thanks to Commissioner Pryor, both are enjoying $80,000 incomes.
The list goes on and on…
While there are a record number of essential unfilled vacancies and the core work of the State Department of Education isn’t getting done in a timely manner, the sign on the door reads:
Only education consultants and those have taken the corporate education reform pledge need apply.