The Malloy/Pryor Education Reform Consultant Full Employment Gravy Train

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.

  • mookalaboona

    Is it a surprise? The Malloy Supremacy lives on! Catering to rich friends, handing out our tax dollars like candy to Bridgewater, a hedge fund firm who has a CEO earning 2.5 BILLION dollars, like he needs Malloy’s handout of 110 million. Malloy doesn’t care about this state! On the one hand he’s in Newtown crying over the loss of a non-tenured teacher, where 10 months before he was attacking teachers saying they only needed to show up to get tenure. He’s the worst Republican governor we’ve had. (I know he’s a Democrat, I’m a Democrat, and I’m ashamed at what he has done and continues to do.)

  • brutus2011

    Jon makes a very very essential point here.

    It is about the money but not just corporate profits but also about 6 figure salaries.

    In today’s economy, near 100K+ is what it takes to sustain a middle class lifestyle.

    What Jon does not say here, probably because it is not the focus of this article, is that public school administrators also look at 6 figure incomes as their holy grail–not what is in the best interests of our kids.

    What this means is that we taxpayers, parents of school-age children, are in deep doo-doo–unless you can afford private school or you live in an affluent community.

    The entire system needs a complete overhaul.

    Thanks again, Jon for a timely piece.

    (and don’t get me started on money being made in our colleges and univesristies)

    • 1987tsd

      When I started teaching, 34 years ago, people would ask me what I did for a living. I would proudly tell them, “I’m a school teacher.” They would reply with “You put up with those kids all day? You couldn’t pay me enough to do that”. Now, when people ask what I do for a living I proudly tell them, “I’m a school teacher.” They reply, “Overpaid, lazy union bum, sucking at the government teat, always whining about having too many kids in your class, don’t even work in the summer, etc. Anyone can do your job.”

      Ha! Thanks for reminding me of this. 100K ain’t what it used to be. Next time I’ll say I have a tech job.

      I think Jonathan’s point was that these jackwagons in Hartford are more interested in lining their own pockets rather than filling the positions that actually help students. I had an Ed. Reformer tell me once that school would be a great place to work if it weren’t for the kids! Ha!

      BTW…if I had it all to do again…you couldn’t pay me enough to be a school teacher!

    • Querculus


      The holy grail for administrators?

      School administrators, especially building administrators, seek to create a well functioning and safe school where students learn and mature in a positive environment that coheres with its surrounding community.

      It is not a six figure salary. The best building administrators are far underpaid for what they do. Are all building administrators above average? Nope. Do they deserve to be seen only as simple money grubbing lazy public employees?

      Absolutely not, and neither do teachers.

      • brutus2011

        I must disagree.

        In my teaching experience, I have come across only a few AP, Prin, and District Admins who did not first and foremost “play the game” to keep their jobs and 6 figure salaries and future pensions. Of course, I am mostly talking about New Haven Public Schools and that may skew my experience considerably given the corruption in New Haven.

        NHPS Admins are pictured under the “throw them under the bus” in the dictionary.

        And, are you really trying to tell me that the financial incentive is a non-sequitur?

        Teachers should be implementing the curriculum int the individual buildings.

        The results will be better and at lower cost.

  • Truth

    Let us not forget Emily Byrnes, and Adam Golferb,

  • Apartheid First

    Out of curiosity, doesn’t the Broad Foundation pay part of Ramos’s and Gay’s salaries? They are Broad Residents, after all, although both clearly state that they are employees of the CT State Department of Education. So what is the Broad role here? Pre-selection?
    It’s pretty disgusting that most of these consultants, making 80K-120K+ salaries, are far outstripping long-time teachers in earning levels. Someone like Ramos has hardly any work experience, but I guess she hit the jackpot (on her Broad Resident bio page, she claims she won life’s lottery… yeah, but only by putting a lot of other people out of work and ruining public education). Ramos’s career path is very typical of the public-school-hating reformer: TFA, Ivy League management or professional degree, consult or lobby, get Broad Foundation, and viola, someone telling Superintendents, teachers, principals, and parents (many of whom are educated! even in distressed districts!) how to improve student achievement. The only thing improving in Connecticut is the earning power of these reformers/deformers.

  • Bronx

    George Costanza: [about mechanics] ” Well of course they’re trying to screw you! That’s what they do. They can make up anything; nobody knows! Why, well you need a new johnson rod here….Oh, a Johnson rod…Yeah well, better put one of those on….”

    We could seamlessly substitute Stefan Pryor for the mechanic, and consultants/ consultancy firms for johnson rods and we have a perfect match…actually, I think we should refer to all these edu-consultants as johnson rods in the future, for all the chicanery and the fact most of em are redundant dicks as well ….

  • GMan

    All I can say is wow. Where do I begin! The Commissioner clearly has made the State Department of Education a great place to work for people with no education background. Every time you turn around he is hiring someone to fill a management type position while ignoring critical consultant positions. Jonathan having you trying to get a statement about vacancy refills from the Head of Human Resources, Ms. Karen Shaw. I would be curious to know what she has to say about hiring practices.

  • Education Junkie

    Talent Officer, Shannon Marimon, is collecting $110,000 wow she is making more than some consultants who have been with the department for over 10 years. I’ve had a few interactions with her in my district and it was clear that she did not have any teaching experience but I did not realize they were paying her that much money. Some of the assistant principals in my district don’t make that much and they have a myriad of educational experiences. Jonathan it might be interesting to request information about her applicant pool. I am willing to bet that if the process was fair, she did not qualify for an interview based on her credentials.

  • Good Bye

    I worked with Mark Day prior to leaving the Department and I can say that I was not impressed. He does not have any idea about education reform. In fact I had a brief conversation with him about the BEST program and he had no idea about the program. Why does this matter, he is playing an integral part in the development of the teacher evaluation system in addition to other key initiatives within the department. I am glad I know longer work for the Department but I am Concerned about people like him and the harm they are causing CT Public School Students.

  • Good Bye

    Please excuse the typos in my last post. I was sending an email while trying to do something else. Not a good Idea.
    I worked with Mark Day prior to leaving the Department. I was not impressed. He is clueless about education reform. In fact I had a brief conversation with him about the BEST Program. He had never heard of the Best Program. Why does this matter you might ask; he is playing an integral part in the development of the teacher evaluation system in addition to other key initiatives within the department. I am glad I no longer work for the Department. However, I am concerned about people like him and the harm they are causing CT Public School Students.

    • Linda174

      They are clueless because this isn’t reform. It is a stimulus employment program for friends of Stefan.

      The less classroom/teaching experience one has, the more qualified you are to “evaluate” the real educators in this state.

      Where is the legislature, are they paying attention?

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