Just when Connecticut’s “Alliance” Districts thought it couldn’t get worse…

With only days to go until the start of the new school year, Connecticut’s 30 Alliance Districts, the thirty poorest school districts in the state, still haven’t heard whether they are getting the additional funds that Governor Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly promised them for this year.

But Malloy and Pryor’s pet project, the State Department of Education’s “Turnaround Office” is getting a new director.

His name…Morgan Barth.

So what is Morgan Barth’s experience when it comes to having the expertise to oversee the state-wide effort to turnaround Connecticut’s most challenging public schools?

He did a stint with Teach for America followed by some time with Achievement First Elm City and then Achievement First Bridgeport’s Middle School.    

According to an internal email from Education Stefan Pryor,

“Beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, Mr. Barth will serve as the Division Director for Turnaround in the Turnaround Office.  He will guide all of the work of the division.  Mr. Barth brings a wealth of experience as an educator and school leader – particularly in school environments that are in need of intensive intervention.  Before coming to the SDE, he led improvement efforts at two of the lowest performing schools in the Achievement First Network, first at Elm City College Prep and most recently at Achievement First Bridgeport’s middle school.  At Elm City, he taught fifth and sixth grade reading for four years before becoming the principal and taught fourth grade in Arkansas before coming to Connecticut in 2004.  Chief Academic Office Dianna Roberge-Wentzell will continue to oversee the Turnaround Office.”

Pryor’s use of poetic license has apparently turned Barth’s teaching and administrative experience with Achievement First into something that is now defined as having “led improvement efforts at two of the lowest performing schools in the Achievement First Network.”

Interestingly, Morgan Barth’s wife is the principal of Achievement First Bridgeport’s elementary school.

So Connecticut’s “Alliance” Districts may be twisting in the wind when it comes to getting the funding they need but at least they’ll have Achievement First telling them what to do with the limited resources they do have.

Readers will, of course, remember that Commissioner Pryor co-founded Achievement First, the charter school management company and served on their board of directors until he resigned to become Malloy’s Commissioner of Education.

  • Linda174

    Woohoo…quite an incestuous bed that AF.

    Are these jobs ever posted so qualified, experienced CT educators can apply or is there merely a direct pipeline from Stefan to Dacia?

    The AFSDE….new name for what was once our state dept. of Ed.

    Just turn the entire system of education over to suspensions first and call it a day.

    • Apartheid First

      Don’t forget about Pryor’s latest appointee on the State BoE–Andrea Comer of–you guessed it! Achievement First.

      • Linda174

        Talk about group think….I suspect they all agree at all times on how to “improve” schools. When in doubt, look at AF goals and procedures for controlling, I mean teaching, children.

  • brutus2011

    These education power brokers know that we citizens are almost powerless to stop their chicanery.

    If we re-elect Malloy or a clone then we will get more cr*p shoved down our throats.

    People are talking about many things concerning all this swirling around public education but I think we should be focusing on political power and control.

    Once they get in political power either through elections or appointments, they are almost inviolate.

    All the good reasons in the world won’t stop their destruction until their political power is stripped away.

    I can’t believe this is happening here in our society.

    • Bill Morrison

      Brutus,
      I will call you tomorrow.

  • Castles Burning

    Mouth open and nothing coming out of brain except wondering if this is a new low? How does one tell?

    CAO is Dianna Roberge-Wentzell who is overseeing the office but not the distribution of funds. Maybe it is a large office with many plants?

    Morgan Barth is the new Division Director for Turnaround in the Turnaround Office (being overseen by Ms. Roberge-Wentzell). I hate to display my ignorance but who trumps whom? The Chief Academic Officer of the Division Director? What might Mr. Barth be doing while Ms. Roberge-Wentzell oversees the office?

    This seems, at least to me, to be such a conundrum. Maybe that is why no one knows (cares?) whether the 30 Alliance Districts get funds.

    Except I read this statement earlier this evening about the new district magnet school in Bridgeport: “‘Every child in the state of Connecticut deserves a school like this, regardless of their ZIP code,’ said Malloy, looking out onto one of the school’s green roofs after the ceremony.”

    • Apartheid First

      Well, Malloy clearly hasn’t been looking at some of the schools in Darien and Westport, because they are equal to or better than the new magnet in Bridgeport. Malloy just noticed this? Why can’t he help poor districts maintain their older buildings? Some would look beautiful with the correct interventions–but they are dreadful and even toxic at the moment. I’ll bet the new interdistrict magnet in Bridgeport is not starting out with an inadequate custodial staff, as so many poor alliance districts, and special-master-led districts, are. Malloy, come and see the nasty sleight-of-hand whereby Steven Adamowski fits two schools into one in Windham–to the discomfort and misery of both. You and your administration have worsened the situation of poor schools by taking the ECS money and dumping it into the charter school trough.
      Those are all zip code problems, Governor. And you could change that.

    • Apartheid First

      Guess what? If an alliance district will submit to getting rid of veteran teachers (and replacing them with scab labor from TFA); getting rid of staff people, not just in the schools and central office, but in town offices as well; hand over their democratic rights to elect their officials and let a Strong Man/Woman Mayor appoint people to the Board of Ed (even non residents); remove all checks and balances in local government; and, let any reformer do whatever they want to children, who will be guinea pigs for reform, drill-and-kill, “no excuses” punishments of preschoolers and kindergarteners–THEN Malloy will release money for leaky roofs and essential remediation of toxins. Otherwise, the schools will languish, be dilapidated–in short, the complete opposite of what all the politicians celebrated in Bridgeport.
      Come on down to Windham, Malloy, Pryor, Murphy, Blumenthal, Williams, Johnson, and squeeze into our Middle school/elementary school/shelter, after touring (with umbrellas and hard hats, and anti-mold gas mask) our district schools.
      Right, Windham has not “cooperated” enough with Adamowski’s/Pryor’s draconian reforms, so the district will be starved and squeezed. That’s a zip code issue, and a human rights violation, to my mind. But our democratically elected officials are just interested in $$$ for their pet projects. Poor children and families–be damned!

  • paulbogush

    He is also KIPP admin trained…

    • Linda174

      Double reformy…what a catch. Oohlala!

  • Guest
    • Apartheid First

      Maybe Pryor was best man. I just hope they got a valid wedding license, and not some waiver signed by the Commissioner/their boss.

  • Nicholas Banks

    Remember when Pryor was questioned about his ties to AF before he got the job and it was decided that it was not a conflict of interest?

    • brutus2011

      Yes, and the General Assembly rubber-stamped his appointment by Malloy.

  • Name

    Question? Why is everyone putting down AF? I am a parent with a child at AFBA. My child was struggling in his neighborhood school, being bullied, and started to hate school. He had an opportunity to attend AFBA and we jumped on it. It was the best move we made. He is now a 8th grader and is happy, well adjusted, and most importantly is learning, and getting the best education we can provide him.
    I feel he is getting a better and more complete education than his cousins in Westport.

    What is wrong with the AF way? From what I see, it’s working.

    Every teacher in the Bpt. school system is certified, and the school system is a mess.

    Every student deserves the same education my son is getting.
    Give Mr. Barth a chance, we should feel lucky that we have him. Can we afford to continue to go the path that we are on? Our inner city schools are failing.