What the Hell is going on: Pryor and State Board of Education make Adamowski a State Employee

At yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, recommended that the Board of Education grant Steven Adamowski a one-year extension in his role as the Special Master for the Windham and New London school systems.

And then, in a surprising and extraordinary turn of events, Pryor announced that Special Master Steven Adamowski would become a state employee rather than continue on as a consultant through the State Education Resource Center (SERC),  SERC being the agency Pryor used to hand out over half a million in no-bid contracts to various companies that helped him write Malloy’s education reform bill.

As reported by the Hartford Courant’s Kathy Megan, Pryor and his spokesperson explained that Adamowski’s position “belongs” at the state agency. They also announced that Adamowski’s salary would be reduced from $225,000 plus benefits to $162,000 plus benefits in order to make it “comparable to other top-level salaries in the department.”

Wait, What? readers will recall that Governor Malloy’s original education reform bill included special language that would have retroactively added five years to Steven Adamowski’s Connecticut Teachers Retirement Pension.

With the addition of his time as Special Master and his ability to purchase out of state time, the Malloy/Pryor maneuver would actually have increased Adamowski’s annual pension by as much as $35,000 or more per year.

However, as a result of the publicity generated by the media coverage (see Wait, What? blog links below), Connecticut legislators removed the Adamowski gift from the final bill.

Now two years have gone by and, out of the blue, Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education announce that Adamowski will be no longer be a paid consultant but will become a state employee and is willing accepting a $63,000 pay cut.

Since Adamowski’s compensation package at the State Education Resource Center included a generous health insurance package, it stands to reason that this latest move is somehow related to trying to boost Adamowski’s taxpayer funded pension.  However, it is not clear yet how the move would actually increase the Adamowski’s annual pension.

What is clear is that some extraordinary deal has taken place, but it is a deal hidden from public view.

Connecticut State Government continues to face a fiscal crisis and hundreds of vital state positions are going unfilled including critical vacancies at the state Department of Education.

In fact, the more one understands about the decision to make Adamowski a state employee, the more serious are the questions that are raised.

The Special Master position WAS NOT part of Commissioner Pryor’s infamous departmental reorganization plan that was approved by the State Board of Education in 2012.  This means the position for Adamowski doesn’t even exist under Pryor’s operating plan.

Of course, any new senior position would have had to have been approved by the Office of Policy and Management, the Department of Administrative Services and the Governor’s Office.  Yet no mention was made yesterday that such a process had been successfully pursued.

Even if a new senior position at the State Department of Education had been created, state laws and regulations would have required some sort of effort to post the position and there would have had to have been some type of recruitment and review process before the state position could have been filed.

But in this case, no position was posted and no recruitment or review process took place leading up to the decision to make Steven Adamowski a state employee.

Equally troublesome is that the decision to make Adamowski a state employee was clearly made prior to the review process that was required before the State Board of Education could extend Adamowski’s role as Special Master.

And all of these issues are clouded by the notion that this effort is somehow related to a renewed attempt to get around the General Assembly’s decision to keep the Malloy administration from boosting Adamowski’s pension by tens of thousands of dollars a year.

The Special Master system is an unfair and destructive program to begin with.

Steven Adamowski, in particular, has used the position to undermine the fundamental rights of students, parents, teachers and local officials in Windham and New London.

The Special Master program should be eliminated but instead, yesterday, the State Board of Education took made a truly unprecedented step to continue the Special Master’s role and reward Steven Adamowski for his failures.

The entire situation should leave the people of Windham and New London, ever very other state employee and every Connecticut taxpayer asking the question….What the hell is going on…?

Governor Malloy has an obligation to immediately step forward and fill in the missing pieces to this controversy.

If Malloy doesn’t reveal what is going down then the Connecticut General Assembly must act to force the Governor and his appointees to come clean on exactly why this inappropriate action has been taken.

You can find the Hartford Courant’s story about yesterday’s meeting here: http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-state-board-education-0905-20130904,0,4111459.story.

And if you want to read more about Malloy’s effort to pad Adamowski’ pension, here are some of the earlier Wait, What? blog posts;

Pension, Pension, who wants a Pension – Steven Adamowski this is your lucky day.

A Hundred Thousand Dollar Plus Pension? The Adamowski Pension Controversy Part II

The Adamowksi Pension Farce: Part III

Heeee’s Back: Malloy Ally Adamowksi Continues to Maneuver for a Larger Teachers Retirement Pension.

The Adamowski Pension: A Story of one Education Reformers Sense of “Entitlement”


  • buygoldandprosper

    Very much like snagging Cathy Malloy her $200K gig making sillly self-serving videos with GHAC, Dan is putting people to work and shrinking government! Another example…hiring a New York firm to look at the cooked books of the Armistad (no Ct. firms need apply)
    Look for Mr. Vallas to get on the band wagon as well!
    No doubt he is spreading the word at The Equinox in Vermont and up in Quebec!
    and don’t foget his buddy Al Barbarotta! He has plenty of work!

    Dan Malloy! Working hard to make Connecticut work!

    • buygoldandprosper

      Another example of Dan turning around the state with more jobs of the future!


      • buygoldandprosper

        More jobs of the future from Dan Malloy. Let’s pass out more state money to corporations and buy a few votes in the process!

        Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of Hartford’s United Technologies Corp., said a Chinese company will build cabins for its S-76D helicopters.

        Changhe Aircraft Industries will be a second source of cabins for the helicopter, which is Sikorsky’s newest model. Aerodochody, based in the Czech Republic, also supplies the cabins.

        Changhe previously built cabins for the S-76D’s predecessor, the S-76C++. Changhe is a subsidiary of AVIC, a shareholder in Shanghai Sikorsky, a civil aerospace joint venture company

  • jrp1900

    “The Special Master system is an unfair and destructive program.” Absolutely!! And that is exactly why Stefan Pryor wants to keep it, and bring it under the umbrella of his office. The game plan is obvious. Pryor learned from the Windham turnaround process that having your own man on the ground is a significant factor in getting what you want from turnaround committees that may not be willing to give it to you. It’s all about “collaboration” and “community participation,” until something goes wrong–that is, when the locals refuse to submit to the corporate reform agenda. Then you can call on the Special Master, the tyrant by law, to come in and force “change” upon the benighted and backward natives. In Windham, Pryor used Adamowski like a strong-arm enforcer. We can expect to see more of this bullying tactic as the Commissioner’s Network takes in more schools and sends them for slaughter, i.e., puts them through every ridiculous “reform” in the corporatist playbook. Putting a special master in the commissioner’s office as a permanent employee is far more insidious than it sounds.

  • R.L.

    Is the Adamowski certified for it’s new position? I guess the big “people” don’t need no stinkin’ credentials to completely f*ck up multiple school districts. Where are the lawsuits? Who can file them and why aren’t they/we/I doing it?

  • Mary Gallucci

    This is clearly “Give Steven Adamowski a state pension,” attempt #2, or plan B.
    What is so galling is that Steven Adamowski has spent his life trashing professional standards and teacher training (in his non-response to me at the SBE, he defended TFA and said that a first year 21-year-old teacher is no more skilled than a 21-year old TFA–you can find that on the CT-N net if you need it!), slashing teacher benefits, forcing teachers to put more toward their own pensions, and ultimately reducing the amount in the teachers’ pension fund by implementing TFA with its revolving door, always 2-year positions–and it concomitant tiny contributions to the state pension fund.
    And yet, after living the corporate high life–pegging *his* salary to CEO standards, and claiming parity with the private, rather than public sector, he finds out that the culture of corporate greed and the mania for privatizing is not at all generous when it comes to retirees and medical care. So he wants to attach himself, parasite-like, to the public sector benefits he strove so tirelessly to demolish. State employee benefits rescue the decrepit corporate raider. What an affront.
    Don Williams, Susan Johnson, and all the legislators who claim they never meant to sell out poor school districts with their draconian Special Master law–it’s time for you to stop this. Adamowski should be removed from any and all offices (he is not certified or licensed in the state of Connecticut any more, if he ever was) and Pryor should be dismissed for the power-grabbing tyrant that he is.

    • JMC

      Well said, Mary!

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    Just when you think it can’t get any worse…….Well I am an optimist……it can get much worse. From my favorite Animal House quote: “It is time for a futile and stupid gesture” Look at what the City Council of Bridgport’s Education Committee is doing: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Education-committee-plays-hooky-4790557.php


  • Striking

    corrupt. This is what Tom Foley was talking about. Corruption and a culture of corruption in Hartford.

    • Mary Gallucci

      Tom Foley is a rather unlikely savior. In fact, he is on the boards of many school reform organizations, and his Connecticut Policy Institute is an absolute booster for TFA, charter schools, privatization, and everything Pryor and Adamowski stand for.
      In fact, the only political campaign we know Adamowski ever donated to was Tom Foley’s bid for governor.
      If Foley is grousing about the culture of corruption in Hartford, it must be because he’s been left out of the action.

      • jrp1900

        Yes. If Tom Foley ever became governor and got his hands on public schooling in Connecticut, he would easily achieve the dubious feat of making Malloy like a moderate on school “reform”!

        • buygoldandprosper

          You both sound like you voted for Dan. Thanks.

        • jrp1900

          I did not, and would not, vote for Dan Malloy. My point is simply: as bad as Malloy is on “school reform,” Foley would be ten times worse! Malloy’s reform bill was horrible, but he still took SOME account of the teachers’ unions, and the importance of local community participation. Foley is openly hostile to the unions and I don’t think he would go out of his way to make educational policy inclusive of lay people. If Foley becomes governor, you can be sure that the rate and number of charter schools and the like will dramatically increase.

          What I say about Foley is in no way meant as an endorsement of Dannel Malloy. Indeed, as regards “the education debate,” Malloy has done a lot of harm to progressive politics in Connecticut. Like Obama, he has essentially normalized right-wing talking points like “school choice” and “teacher accountability.” For a real liberal democrat, “the civil rights issue of our time” would not be “reforming” schools as such, but taking on discrimination, marginalization and poverty. Malloy shows little interest in THESE social tragedies; instead, he works hard to turn over public monies to school privatizers, all the while arguing that he is doing his best “to help poor folks”!

          Malloy is the wolf that licks your hand before he bites you. Foley is the wolf that just bites! The difference is small, but perhaps it is still meaningful?

        • buygoldandprosper

          Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t?
          I do not buy that. You fear Foley but the man has not really held public office. He would have the same crazy legislature to contend with and the same special interests to deal with. He would be no worse and hardly ten times worse than Malloy. And buying him would just cost more whereas Dan is nickel and dime with his eyes on big money.
          If Foley is the candidate opposing a Democrat, I will vote for him, even though he resides in Greenwich and has fancier lace curtains than Dan.
          Either way, we are screwed!

        • jrp1900

          I am basing my argument on what Foley has said he will do should he come into the Governor’s office. What are you basing your argument on?


    As a former employee of the State Department of Education, words can not begin to explain the outrage that I feel regarding the behavior of Commissioner Pryor and the State Board of Education, especially Alan Taylor. Its amazing how Pryor keeps hiring people that were not a part of his orginal orginizational chart. He still has key people that he has not hired on that chart. A chart that was approved by the State Board. Clearly oversight does not exist at this level. To make matters worst, OPM continues to authorize these positions. Consider this, the department has a budget that did not include funding for these positions. So where is the extra money coming from in order to pay for these positions. The money is coming from the key positions in the techinical high school system that were not filled. The only manager the system has is interim superintendent, Dr. Torres. If I were her I would leave. It is clear that Pryor does not care about that system, if he did he would have filled the two vacant assist superintendent positions. Positions that have existed for years. The board approved hiring Adamowski who gets paid more than Dr. Torres to work in two school districts but wont pay her or anyone in that position, a competitive salary. What sense does that make???

    • jrp1900

      Mr. Pryor’s conduct as Commissioner is all too typical of the blind ideologue. The corporatists are always talking of the need to “reinvent government,” to rationalize and streamline government directives and government policy. This usually means that they want to remove “regulations” that protect workers, consumers and the environment, while strengthening the hand of employers, owners and creditors. The school “reform” movement is shot through with these very concerns. And Mr. Pryor sees himself as a front line soldier and is very much committed to doing his part to win the war. He will use his office in the service of an ideological agenda. As Jon Pelto reported, he has already contracted out educational services that used to exist in-house in the DOE. And his greatest trick (familiar from the good old days of Ronald Reagan) is to staff your agency with people who are actively hostile to the purported goal of the agency. The DOE is charged with safeguarding the welfare of the public school system, and yet I’m sure the agency is filling up with people whose true commitment is to school privatization. Bringing in Adamowksi, as a permanent state employee, makes perfect sense. It’s all about extending and consolidating power.

  • brutus2011

    They do this because they can.

    I learned this in New Haven.

    Once in power, these petty tyrants can basically do whatever they want because we let them.

    Our view are really only opinion with no power to effect choice.

    The only choice is at the ballot box.

    The myth is that choice is the key. It is not.

    Power is the key. It is a lesson we have to keep learning over and over again.

    We need people in public service who use power for the public good instead of self-aggrandizement.

  • Disgusted

    Where is the job posting for this position? Where is the job description? Opening and closing dates for applicants? This seems like a blatant violation of state procedures and equal employment opportunity protection.