The goal is helping Connecticut’s 30 Alliance School Districts. These are the districts that face the greatest academic challenges because they have higher levels of poverty, a more significant number of students who face language barriers due to their lack of English language skills and districts with the largest number of special educations students.
Helping these districts succeed requires that the state to provide them with state-of-the-art technical assistance so they can better confront their challenges and more financial support so they can provide the necessary services to their children.
The task of providing the technical expertise has been the responsibility of professional staff at the State Department of Education. The outstanding and well-respected team has been made up of three former Connecticut school superintendents and four administrative Leaders in Residence. Together these seven experts have been helping Alliance Districts all across the state.
However, despite the fact that Alliance Districts have praised the value of these experts, on behalf of the Malloy Administration, Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education instructed an aide to end the contracts with the seven experts, all of whom are not only Connecticut residents but have devoted their careers to developing effective solutions to the problems that Alliance Districts face.
Instead, Commissioner Pryor decided to spend far more money on a team of out-of-state consultants who have virtually no experience with the very problems these Alliance Districts are facing.
As reported in an earlier Wait, What? post, On March 28, 2013, Malloy’s Department of Education signed a contract with Mass Insight, a Massachusetts company to “develop the state’s turnaround strategy and improve the most struggling schools.”
Instead of spending a few hundred thousand on the existing experts, Commissioner Pryor decided to spend $957,960.00 for a team of five consultants, three of whom have never taught in a public school, one of whom has two years teaching experience and one who apparently has three years of teaching experience. Taken together, they don’t even have the experience of even one of the existing Connecticut experts.
But at the end of this month, our Connecticut team, and the individuals who have been working so hard to help Connecticut’s communities will be unemployed. Gone will be the very individuals who have worked on the front lines, developing programs and strategies that have proven to make a difference.
Why spend so much more for so much less?
The story behind the story isn’t clear yet but the CEO of Mass Insight did come down to “facilitate” a panel at an education reform conference Malloy sponsored in 2012 and despite running a company based outside of Connecticut, the same CEO submitted legislative testimony in favor of Malloy’s “education reform” legislation.
But why Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor would lay off expert Connecticut residents to make room for inexperienced out-of-state consultants, at a time when Connecticut’s economy continues to suffer and Connecticut state government is raising taxes just to preserve vital services….
That remains a mystery.
The previous Wait, What? posts on this issue can be found here: http://jonathanpelto.com/2013/05/28/news-flash-school-districts-thrown-under-the-bus-as-commissioner-pryor-ends-successful-technical-services-program/ and http://jonathanpelto.com/2013/05/24/layoffs-for-connecticut-residents-retainers-for-out-of-state-consultants-the-malloy-pryor-mass-insight-contract/