Oh No! Look Out Norwalk – Steven Adamowski is headed your way

[And Norwalk BOE, exactly how are you going to hire Mr. Adamowski considering he does not have the necessary certification to be a superintendent in Connecticut – Adamowski’s  NONRENEWABLE INTERIM PROVISIONAL EDUCATOR ended on 11/7/2007]

The Norwalk Board of Education has selected Steven Adamowski to replace Manny Rivera as the next Norwalk Superintendent of Schools according to sources in Norwalk and as reported in the Norwalk Hour and a local news site called Nancy on Norwalk which is maintained by journalists including Mark Chapman who wrote the article on Adamowski.

Norwalk’s previous superintendent, Rivera, left earlier this year to take the superintendent’s job in New London, the community in which Adamowski has been serving as “Overlord” and Special Master.

According to the published report, the Norwalk Board will be voting to officially hire Adamowski on June 16, at which time,  one would suppose, he’ll announce that he is leaving his job in the Connecticut State Department of Education, a position he was given through a no posting, no review process, thanks to now departed Commissioner Stefan Pryor.

Adamowski was selected for the Norwalk job through a search managed by the now infamous corporate search firm, ProACT, the company that stands in the center of a $20 million no-bid contract controversy in Chicago, Illinois.

The ongoing investigation recently brought down Chicago Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and a number of school districts fired ProACT following the revelations coming out of Chicago.

As the Catalyst Chicago media outlet reported about ProAct in 2013,

“Byrd-Bennett is listed as a senior associate for a superintendent search firm called PROACT Search, in documents dated August 2012—four months after taking the position with CPS.

PROACT is run by the same individuals who lead Supes: (Gary Solomon, the executive director, and Thomas Vranas, the president.)

Byrd-Bennett is one of four contacts listed in the proposal for services submitted by PROACT in its bid to do a superintendent search for the Norwalk, Connecticut school district. She has an e-mail address listed in the proposal. When PROACT won the contract, an official for the company was quoted in the local newspaper touting that Byrd-Bennett, who by that time had been named as Chicago’s CEO, was a contractor with the firm.”

Recently, the $20 million no-bid contract has ballooned into a major investigation attracting the FBI and other investigative agencies.

Meanwhile, back in Norwalk, Board of Education Chairman Michael Lyons announced in a press release earlier today that that Adamowski was choice.

The fairy-tale like press release states;

Dr. Adamowski shares the Board’s commitment to building a school district of excellence for the 21st Century, one that truly embraces diversity and the goal of success for each and every student. He has committed to staying in Norwalk for the long term, and to full support of the Strategic Plan adopted by the Board with former Superintendent Manny Rivera. We believe that he will bring to his Superintendency all the talents and values that the Board looked for in the lengthy search we conducted with PROACT.

Dr. Adamowski has been a successful educator and education reformer for over 35 years, and a nationally recognized urban superintendent. Dr. Adamowski served as Superintendent of Hartford’s system of schools for five years before assuming his Special Master duties. During this time, the performance of Hartford students on Connecticut State Assessments, once the lowest in Connecticut, rose by record levels, surpassing statewide gains for four consecutive years and substantially closing the achievement gap of Hartford students. Key to that success was an overhaul of the district into a system of high-performing schools of choice through the redesign and turnaround of low performing schools and the creation of new schools – a “Portfolio District.”

Prior to Hartford, Dr. Adamowski served as Senior Fellow and Managing Director of the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, DC, where he focused on assisting urban school districts to improve their effectiveness. He joined AIR after serving as Superintendent/CEO of the Cincinnati, Ohio Public Schools, where he led a massive redesign and decentralization that pioneered the development of small, themed high schools and produced dramatic gains in student outcomes.

Dr. Adamowski also served as Associate Secretary of Education in Delaware where he played a key role in that state’s early education reform efforts.

He currently teaches a course on Data-Based Decision Making for Superintendents in the University of Connecticut’s Executive Leadership Program.

Dr. Adamowski holds an M.A in Education from Trinity College in Hartford and a specialist degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned his PhD in Educational Administration from Saint Louis University in Missouri.

When contact by the Norwalk Hour, Adamowski responded;

“I think that Norwalk has all the challenges of a city needing to provide better schools for all children and closing the achievement gap, which is what I have devoted my life and career to for the past 30 years,”

“I think the strategy that’s outlined in the strategic plan that was developed by the board and former Superintendent Rivera is very compatible with my approach. This will be my last long term career commitment. I’m a Connecticut native and Norwalk also is the place that I would like to live and be a part of for the foreseeable future.”

You can read more at:




A search using Adamowski’s name here on Wait, What? will produce numerous posts on Adamowski’s antics over the last few years…

Here are just a few for those who are interested;

A case study on arrogance: “Special Deal” Steven Adamowski

Special Master Adamowski’s Failing Grade in Windham

Meanwhile, Malloy’s Special Master Adamowski joins Vallas in the land where laws don’t apply….

Fewer Teachers, More Administrators: Education Reform the Adamowski Way

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

Steven Adamowski, Governor Malloy and Perfecting the Art of Inflating Test Scores

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

  • Sue Haynie

    As a Norwalk resident, I am thrilled that Dr. Adamowski has been offered a position as our next Superintendent.

    • jonpelto

      Thanks for posting you opinion Sue, can I ask why you think are so positive. Many readers in Hartford, Windham and New London have had a very different experience with him

    • Linda174

      With children in the school system?

    • R.L.

      You must be a charter school operative. Hartford will never recover from the damage Adamowski has done to the Public Schools. He is no reformer, he is a disruptor. He is the guy that the neo-liberals put into place to undermine public institutions so that they can be labeled a failure and set up for a “private solution” to this failure. He is a racketeer who should be in prison rather than running a school district.

  • Bill Morrison

    Will this hemorrhoid ever go away? Quick, someone, douse him with a ton of Preparation H! Wait . . . Adamfraudski is a tumor that must be excised!

  • Sue Haynie

    Bill Morrison, are you a Norwalk resident by chance?

    • Bill Morrison

      Sue Haynie,
      No. I am a survivor of Adamfraudski’s reign of terror in Hartford. Adamowski’s performance in Hartford left devastation throughout the district in that he killed all real professional development for teachers, killed all curricula except for that supporting his testing mania, killed meaningful extra-curricular activities for students, killed most course electives so that students are left with a very narrow focus for courses. He proclaimed improved graduation rates while improving those rates by creating diploma mills through his extremely generous grading policy and through his killing the attendance policy. Your students will worse off than ever because of this charlatan.

  • Mark Chapman

    NancyOnNorwalk.com thanks you for the link, but with one quibble. You write a blog, a collection of highly opinionated posts with a perspective. NoN is a 501c3 news website run and mostly populated by Nancy Guenther Chapman, who has worked as a fulltime journalist for about 10 years, and me a 37 year journalist with credits up and down the East Coast fro small weeklies to metro dailes and web-only sites. We prefer the distinction of news website to blog; it more fittingly characterizes what we do and our non-profit mission.

    Thanks again for the link. I’ll be returning the favor later tonight…

    • jonpelto

      I’m sorry – I didn’t realize. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
      I actually saw the blog posting before the Norwalk Hour and didn’t want to let it go unacknowledged. I’ll change it immediately,

    • jonpelto

      Mark, I changed the post to read – The Norwalk Board of Education has selected Steven Adamowski to replace Manny Rivera as the next Norwalk Superintendent of Schools according to sources in Norwalk and as reported in the Norwalk Hour and a local news site called Nancy on Norwalk which is maintained by journalists including Mark Chapman who wrote the article on Adamowski.

      For what it is worth, while I readily admit I maintain a blog that includes highly opinionated posts with a perspective – I’d like to believe – perhaps naively – that I’ve based those opinions on facts that I’ve brought to my readers attention.

      In any case, I hope you or the Norwalk Hour will inquire about how they intend to hire someone who lacks the certification to be a superintendent and when Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education agreed to grant Adamowski the waiver he will need – using language that Malloy’s own office introduced as a mechanism to approve Paul Vallas.

      Also, you may want to look into the test scores and graduation rates in Hartford. You can read about them in my blogs posts. Adamowski removed about 10% of the lowest scoring students. An independent study determined such a move would increase test scores by about 6% which is exactly what happened. Also, Adamowksi ordered that every student’s failing grade be increased to 55 rather than the 0 – 100 score that was used for all other students. By creating a baseline of 55 – a significant number of students were able to graduate who would not otherwise been able to.

      • Mark Chapman

        Thanks. And I do have an inquiry in to the BOE chair.

  • Sue Haynie

    Jonathan Pelto, In answer to your question, one reason is Adamowski’s commitment to quality professional development.
    High quality PD is part of Norwalk’s 10 point early literacy plan and it’s needed to make up for the inadequate training most ed schools provide their teacher graduates in early reading instruction. Embedded
    PD is time consuming and expensive. Norwalk’s last two Superintendents’, Marks and Rivera, emphasized high quality PD. We’re far from done, but both former Superintendents set the groundwork for it and lined up funding and/or funders.


    Norwalk’s PreK-5 Literacy Plan: http://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/PreK-5-Literacy-Presentation-2-26-631pm-1.pdf

    • R.L.

      I can tell you that, under “Dr.” Adamowski the professional development in Hartford changed from learning things and sharing ideas about how to teach children, to the manipulation of data and how to make reports with all of the minutiae these school deformers are so obsessed with. He is absolutely not committed to “quality professional development.” I can tell you what to expect form the disease of Adamowski. You’re going to get a lot of double-speak as choices are reduced under the guise of school choice, as support systems for ELL and Special Education students are decimated, as alternative programs are shut down and the emotionally disturbed students who needed them are reintroduced into the “main stream”, and as you’re old neighborhood schools become crucibles of the most difficult and needy students while the better students in your district are creamed off into charter and magnet schools. Adamowski has NO skills with regard to school improvement. He is a master of the shell game though. Gee, lets take all of the good students from the neighborhood schools and concentrate them into one building. Then you can take credit for creating a successful school. That’s an easy con and it’s easy to see if anyone actually took the time to look. What about the students and the neighborhood schools that are left behind? I work in a left behind school. We are lacking in services, supplies (including textbooks), and discipline. It’s funny how these reformer types work. They concentrate the better students into one place and call it success while leaving the students who actually need support behind. Then they go and blame the teachers for the low functioning of the left behind school. Adamowski and his ilk don’t fix anything. They just sweep what they don’t want people looking at under the rug.

      • Bill Morrison

        They also cut out the support those students need. Under Adamowski, Special Needs teachers were taken out of his dumping ground schools and placed where they weren’t needed, while concentrating special needs students into the neighborhood schools. He allowed frauds like Stephen Perry to run amok with only two or three percent of Special Needs students, proclaiming these schools to be successful, while giving us thirty-three percent (with another thirty-three percent ELL). Yet he took away the very teachers necessary for these students, proclaiming us to be “failures”.

        • Bill Morrison

          Adamowski took what many considered the most accomplished professional development program in the U.S. and dismantled it. I am a History & Social Studies Teacher. Our director, who had built a tremendous program in which top scholars from around the U.S. would provide us with the best PD imaginable. Our director had designed an outstanding curriculum for all grades and all academic levels, having all Social Studies teachers throughout the district following this curricula and administering the same mid-terms and finals based on course and student academic levels. She then tabulated all data from these tests and had us review this together in an end-of-year PD, analyzing what had gone right and wrong. Adamowski’s first act as non-certified Superintendent was to fire her, dismantle the program and scrap the curriculum, replacing it with nothing. There was no meaningful PD anywhere in our district after Adamowski took over. The LAST THING Adamowski is concerned with is meaningful professional development.

  • cindy

    Not even certified??

    Oh well, no matter. Charters, magnets, Teach For America, highly paid consultants, triple-billing, what else?

  • R.L.

    Adamowski is unfit for public service.

    • Joanna Cooper

      Can you post the state department of education direct links on these documents? If they exist.

      • Linda174

        You will never get the truth from the CTSDE. Don’t be so naive. You have been warned and with evidence. Your allegiance is to one man.

        • Joanna Cooper

          I love your sense of drama. Fantastic! Better than a cheesy soap opera.

      • Bill Morrison

        I am the author of the above document. My source is the Connecticut Code of Professional Responsibilities for Educators. Educators is defined in that source as Superintendents, Administrators, Teachers, and Paraprofessionals. I then compared Adamowski’s actions as Superintendent in Hartford with the requirements found in the Code. He violated thirteen provisions, violation of any one has often been used to justify removing teachers.

        • Joanna Cooper

          Thank you, Bill Morrison for sharing that you are the owner of the documents posted by R. L. that list Dr. Adamowski’s violations. I’m familiar with the code. I knew it wasn’t an official document but rather an opinion. Nice work! We could use your talents in Norwalk. Please come write up the violations of the all the insubordinate bullying administrators and others that keep the status quo in place. We’ve got a few rotten apples that I’d love to see you apply your formula to. I hope Dr. Adamowski can do as good a job as you!

        • Bill Morrison


          Thank you for the kind words. I’ll make a deal with you . . . pay me $200,000 per year instead of Adamowski’s $250,000, and I will gladly come to Norwalk. I’m not a certified superintendent either. But, I will bring integrity to the job.

          I wish I could say that these are opinions. However, the provisions of the code are not opinions but fact. It is a fact that the code requires professional certification for everyone involved in public education, just as it is a fact that Adamowski does not have the certification required for his professional position. It is fact that the code requires that everyone involved in public education work diligently to improve upon their professional credentials just as it is fact that Adamowski has not done so. It is fact that the code requires that everyone in public education make no false official comments or provide false official data, just as it is a fact that Adamowski has repeatedly made made official comments and deliberately manipulated data to produce false conclusions.

          Finally, I would be happy to apply the code to anyone in public education. I take my teaching extremely seriously.

        • Bill Morrison

          To continue, it is a fact that the Code requires no falsification of information just as it is a fact that Adamowski falsified graduation rates by imposing a minimum failing grade of 55 whether or not a student was actually in attendance, allowing students to graduate having attended classes less than one quarter of each year.

          Is this what you really want for Norwalk?

  • Joanna Cooper

    Jon Pelto
    I understand you don’t live in Norwalk but you are attacking our new selection for Superintendent. This is Norwalk’s business. You are hung up on an expired certification. No big deal. When Norwalk hired Dr. Rivera he did not hold a Connecticut certificate the state gave him one. I’m sure that Dr. Adamowski’s certificate can be reinstated and if not he likely has a current waiver. Dr. Adamowski is more than qualified for the job of Superintendent for Norwalk Public Schools!

    As a Norwalk tax paying citizen, CT certified teacher, former governor’s appointee to the State Advisory Council on Special Education, Focus Monitoring Committee member and original stakeholder responsible for developing the CT State Performance Plan (eight years) along with being intimately involved in Norwalk politics and having a student in NPS for fourteen years there is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Adamowski is a great choice for Norwalk. He is a strong educational reformer and that is exactly what Norwalk needs.

    I see in your blog that you, “Pelto is now a candidate for governor in Connecticut running as the nominee of the newly created Education and Democracy Party.” No offense but why don’t you stick to focusing on that and let Norwalk deal with it’s own governance. If you are knocking a guy like Dr. Adamowski you are not pro-students but pro-Union. Norwalk
    parents and students would be honored and lucky to have Dr. Adamowski as our new superintendent.

    Unions are the most destructive force in education today. It’s time for students to come first and Dr. Adamowski will put students first in Norwalk. The fact that pro-Union guys like you don’t like him is all the more reason he is right for Norwalk.

    • Sleepless in Bridgeport

      Are you related to this moke or are you on the payroll? Norwalk scraped the bottom and came up with an useless carp. Do your homework. Adamowski is to education what the Marquis de Sade is to good deeds.

    • jonpelto

      Ms. Cooper,

      First, thank you for taking the time to post your thoughts.

      I’m not exactly sure how to respond to your overall statement but if your premise is, “If you are knocking a guy like Dr. Adamowski you are not pro-students but pro -Union,” you clearly haven’t read many of my commentary pieces.

      In fact, I am pro-student and pro-teacher and support unions when they are pro-student and pro-teacher.

      As for Mr. Adamowski, I’ve been writing about politics and education policy in Connecticut on a daily basis for 4 and a half years. During that time I’ve published more than 2,030 articles of which at least 150 covered Adamowski and his record in Hartford, Windham, New London and his earlier years.

      I reported on him because I report on education policy and politics in Connecticut.

      As for “picking” on Norwalk or getting involved in “Norwalk’s business,” I can only say that as a Connecticut citizen who was a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives for a decade, serving on the Education and Appropriations Committee and as a citizen journalist in our state, I recognize that Norwalk is part of Connecticut and our fellow citizens have a right to know what is going on in their state.

      Of course, in addition, as a Connecticut taxpayer I recognize that more than $50 million in state taxpayer funds have made their way to Norwalk’s schools since I started blogging in 2011 and certainly taxpayers have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent.

      • Joanna Cooper

        Jon Pelto
        I did not ask for a response but thank you for responding. Allow me to explain further why I responded the way I did to your post. I hate the doom and gloom headline. Norwalk needs positivity and hope. I question that your big red alarm about not having a current certificate is a real problem. Dr. Adamowski must have some kind of a waiver or other arrangement that would allow him to be hired by the NPS BoE. I highly doubt he would be our top candidate without this having been looked into and resolved.

        You characterize our Chairman of the BoE’s press release announcing the selection of Dr. Adamowski as a “fairy-tale like” press release. That’s rather insulting. I’d like to know what part of that press release is “fairy-tale like”?

        We can’t keep a superintendent in NPS. Nobody is perfect and it is irritating that all of superintendents NPS hires just get smashed in the press. It’s like you want him to fail before he even gets started. If he is so awful who do you think would be a good superintendent for Norwalk schools? You say as a tax payer you are concerned that $50 million since 2011 has been spent on Norwalk schools. That is alarming and I share this concern. What’s the solution? It’s easy to criticize but what would be nice is if you offered a solution or suggest an alternative. Why do you think it is that we can’t keep a superintendent for long? Why do you think even those at the highest levels struggle with education reforms?

        You were on the Education committee I’m disappointed to see so many articles on Dr. Adamowski that are negativity focused. Clearly he knows how to negotiate a good deal for himself but you don’t get to his level without doing something right. One man cannot change an entire culture. It takes a village. Let’s support those that aim to reform our schools at least they are brave enough to try.

        I agree, the absolute mess with PROACT is ugly and unfortunate for sure. Was Norwalk aware of this when they hired PROACT? No. Did they cause it? No. Did they know in enough time to dump PROACT? Maybe. Should they have dumped PROACT? Not if they were to find a superintendent in a timely manner. Clearly a decision was made to continue the process. Will they ever use PROACT again? I hope not and I doubt they will.

        • buygoldandprosper

          Take Winnie Hamilton, from Stamford! She is available and, even with her miserable track record, is an uptick when it comes to Adamowski. But her game was specific to Stamford. An ex-gym teacher turned bureaucrat.
          Steven is probably part of some sort of “package” offered by Malloy. That’s all it is. He is just another charlatan that will drive NPS system into the ditch.
          Or pick up Joshua Starr…Dan Malloy’s butt-buddy. He is looking.
          Wise up Ms. Cooper.

        • R.L.

          “It’s like you want him to fail before he even gets started.” He started a long time ago and failure is in the eyes of the beholder. If you are basing his job performance on past district IMPROVEMENTS, he is an utter failure. If you are basing his job performance on his ability to dismantle a district so as to make it ripe pickings for corporate raiders who are looking to make big bucks off of struggling school districts, Adamowski is your man.

        • Joanna Cooper

          If Dr. Adamowski is the same type of “corporate raider” as Dr. Rivera was he’ll be raiding those corporations for big grant money that supports NPS. We can use more of those kinds of district improvements.

    • R.L.

      You are either completely misguided or have an agenda. First of all, Adamowski is neither pro-union or pro-student. He is pro-corporate reform and served his masters (definitely not the communities he works for) well. He is no education reformer in the sense that reform would actually mean an improvement to a district’s schools. He is a destabilizer of school districts and a racketeer.

      The unions are not the most destructive force in education today, although they have recently been on the wrong side of education policy (at least in this state) in that they have played nice with these so called reformers. The unions have been a destructive force (not the most) in how they have misrepresented their membership by endorsing the likes of Malloy which comes complete with his own crony-capitalist entourage. To say that Mr. Pelto is pro-union shows that you have not been following this blog very well. If anything, Mr. Pelto has called the union out on its poor leadership and unwillingness to take on those who’s intentions are to undermine public education for a fast buck.

      You say you are a certified teacher, but I gather from your comments that you haven’t been in a classroom for a very long time. Quite frankly, you sound ignorant.

    • Bill Morrison

      How many teachers would you hire without a certificate in their fields?

      • Joanna Cooper

        I’d hire a teacher with natural talent who was highly educated vs one with a certificate no talent and less educated. Certification is important but it doesn’t necessarily equate to success in the classroom. If it did why are our schools failing so many of our kids?

        • jonpelto

          Joanna, I appreciate that you want Mr. Adamowski to become Norwalk’s superintendent and that we all want educators with real talent – and that certification is simply an external mechanism to process who is allowed to teach in our schools… but here is the question.

          Marjorie M I tried to explain the law, as I understand it, on the other article. At this point Mr. Adamowski CAN NOT work in a Connecticut school because he lacks the necessary certification – but there is a process the TOWN can use to get that requirement waived.

          To me the question is this.

          Adamowski had Connecticut certification. 55,000 other teachers and administrators have it as well – some are good, some are not so good and some are bad – but all participated in professional development programs to keep their certification, all paid for their certification and renewed certification as required by law, all did the legal things required of keep their certification in “good standing.” But not Adamowski.

          And even more incredible is that knowing he couldn’t participate in the teacher pension program Adamowski failed to make any effort to become re-certified – a process hundreds of people do every year.

          At any point he could have taken the necessary steps to become certified again. There are even alternative routes to get a certification. And he simply did not do what was necessary and legally required to work in a Connecticut school and get a Connecticut teacher pension — even though he wanted that pension and apparently wanted to work as a superintendent —- why?


          We would never let a doctor work without their license whether they had natural talent or not.

        • Bill Morrison


          How would you assess this “natural talent”? Also, are you saying that anyone who is certified according to state law has no talent? What about the millions of us nationwide who have met certification requirements according to law, only to be left behind by a charlatan who is not certified and has left behind an incredible track record of deceit, destruction, and devastation? With respect, you are being somewhat disingenuous by such statements.