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Pryor Returns, This Time As State Schools Chief

by Paul Bass | Sep 7, 2011 9:01 am

(14) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: School Reform

City of NewarkNew Haven has a new direct connection to the Malloy administration for school reform—a connection that began in City Hall.

That connection is Stefan Pryor. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has named Pryor his new education commissioner.

Upon hearing the news Tuesday, Yale administrator Michael Morand sent Pryor a text message: “Welcome home.”

Morand knew Pryor since they took turns representing Ward 1 on New Haven’s Board of Aldermen. The two have kept up as Pryor went off to bigger pastures—but stayed in touch with people back in New Haven like Morand about education and other local developments.

“This is not an outsider. This is a homecoming,” Morand said. “He is extraordinarily energetic. He combines big-picture strategy with sweating the details. He is neither up in the clouds nor stuck in the weeds. ... He has grown incredibly in terms of his own leadership.”

Pryor, the 39-year-old son of two schoolteachers, first honed both his government and his school reform chops in New Haven. He developed a reputation for hard work and collegiality; he rarely if ever got caught up in political or personality disputes.

He served as an alderman while a Yale student. Then he became a top policy advisor to then newly-elected Mayor John DeStefano from 1994 through 1997. Pryor helped design New Haven’s neighborhood anti-blight agency, the Livable City Initiative (LCI). (Pryor left before the agency became mired in scandal, drawing the FBI into its offices to seize computers.) He co-founded New Haven’s nationally lauded Amistad Academy charter school. He also worked on an early version of school reform, a planned partnership between Yale and the city to create around-the-clock “community schools” in places like West Rock.

That plan never took off. But Pryor—and, eventually, New Haven school reform—did.

Frank Carrano, former head of the New Haven teachers union, got to know Pryor through serving on volunteer education projects together in New Haven, including organizing meetings for Amistad Academy. “I see him as a wonderful convener, someone who can bring people together, someone who can create an atmosphere of collaboration,” Carrano said. “He’s a really good administrator.”

Pryor left New Haven for the Big Apple, where he worked on school reform for a business group called Partnership for New York City. After 9/11 he worked for that agency and then the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (eventually as president) on rebuilding businesses in the wake of the terrorist attack.

Then Pryor followed another charter school-minded Yale grad to Newark: Cory Booker. He became Mayor Booker’s deputy mayor in charge of economic development. Among the projects he spearheaded in that role is Teachers Village, where three charter schools will be located right by apartments where the teachers will live. A spokesman for the project’s developer Tuesday praised Pryor’s “combination of common sense and smarts” in getting it off the ground.

Now Pryor is leaving the Newark post to come to Connecticut and take up Malloy’s promise to address the state’s achievement gap, among other educational challenges.

In that role, he’ll be a valuable speed-dial listing for his former boss—DeStefano, who’s still New Haven’s mayor and now embarked on an ambitious school reform project of his own.

In addition to his Newark government job, Pryor has traveled to work pro bono to help rebuild school systems in Chile and Haiti after their earthquakes. One of his fellow volunteers said from Haiti on Tuesday that he considers Pryor “one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever met… Everybody likes him.”

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posted by: Threefifths on September 6, 2011  6:46pm

But he is still part of the corporate plutocracy.He will sell out the public school system to the hedge funders.

posted by: Threefifths on September 6, 2011  6:56pm

Then Pryor followed another charter school-minded Yale grad to Newark: Cory Booker. He became Mayor Booker’s deputy mayor in charge of economic development. That’s the post he’s leaving to come to Connecticut and take up Malloy’s promise to address the state’s achievement gap, among other educational challenges.

He will be just like his old boss check is boss out.

http://nyceducator.com/2006/05/faux-democrats.html

Get rid Ct.your next.

http://www.blackcommentator.com/poisoned_tree.html

posted by: Alden on September 6, 2011  8:09pm

I am glad to have a little introduction to our new Education Commissioner, but I would have liked some more balanced reporting.  Education reform is a contentious issue, and it is not one size fits all.  It would have been helpful to understand what some of his critics believe.

posted by: JAK on September 6, 2011  9:01pm

This guy has his work cut out for him.

posted by: TravellingMan on September 7, 2011  8:06am

My does this guy get around.I swore i saw him on Long Island

posted by: robn on September 7, 2011  11:34am

3/5,

Unlike other politicians, Cory Booker seems to have walked the walk. Lived in public housing for several years after graduating from Yale. Also somewhat transparent and accesible…does call in radio show on WBGO every week.

posted by: TRJR on September 7, 2011  2:04pm

Congratulation to Gov. Malloy for making an
excellent choice in the appointment of former
New Haven alder Stefan Pryor to be Ct.`s
Education Commissioner. Stefan was a no-nonsense alder when he served on New Haven`s
BOA and quickly earned the reputation of being
a doer and consensus builder. I know that he
will tackle Ct.`s education crisis in a thoughtful and proactive fashion.In Stefan we
have someone who will actually bring hands
on experience to the challenge of the pos-
ition. Good luck and God speed!

posted by: Threefifths on September 7, 2011  4:53pm

posted by: robn on September 7, 2011 11:34am
3/5,

Unlike other politicians, Cory Booker seems to have walked the walk. Lived in public housing for several years after graduating from Yale. Also somewhat transparent and accesible…does call in radio show on WBGO every week

Yea Right.Enjoy The Cory Booker Propaganda Show.

http://www.afro-netizen.com/2005/07/the_cory_booker.html

posted by: Elaine Braffman on September 7, 2011  5:06pm

Well,well…. I still remember you from back in the day when serving on the BOA! Let me take this opportunity to wish you success and good luck to you Stephan! Very exciting.

posted by: robn on September 7, 2011  7:43pm

3/5,

I don’t really know much about the author of the anti-Booker screed or about the validity or lack of validity of his writing, but I do notice that he seems to be very buddy buddy with former Mayor James. This is the same mayor who, shortly after filing to run for re-election against Booker, announced he wouldn’t run, and then shortly after that, was indicted and convicted of federal crimes (rigging sales of city land to his mistress.) Whats up with that?

posted by: Threefifths on September 8, 2011  8:48am

3/5,

I don’t really know much about the author of the anti-Booker screed or about the validity or lack of validity of his writing, but I do notice that he seems to be very buddy buddy with former Mayor James. This is the same mayor who, shortly after filing to run for re-election against Booker, announced he wouldn’t run, and then shortly after that, was indicted and convicted of federal crimes (rigging sales of city land to his mistress.) Whats up with that

You said seems to be very buddy buddy with former Mayor James.But corey booker is very buddy buddy with the right wing and corporate plutocracy.He is even very buddy buddy with king Bloomberg of New York who just Covered Up Ex-Deputy Mayor’s Domestic Violence Arrest and also corey book took money from king bloomberg for his re-election.

Bloomberg Not Sorry He Covered Up Ex-Deputy Mayor’s Domestic Violence Arrest

http://gothamist.com/2011/09/04/bloomberg_not_sorry_he_covered_up_e.php

Newark Mayor Backed Bloomberg, Then Got Funds By DAVID W. CHEN
Published: October 27, 2009

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/nyregion/28booker.html

And look at who corey booker is very buddy buddy with

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

The Hard Rights Plan to Capture Newark NJ


http://www.blackcommentator.com/poisoned_tree.html


Like I said pryor will be the same.

posted by: robn on September 8, 2011  12:47pm

3/5,

What has Cory Booker done wrong?

posted by: Threefifths on September 8, 2011  3:42pm

posted by: robn on September 8, 2011 12:47pm
3/5,

What has Cory Booker done wrong?

What has he done right?Read the articles.I have friends and family who live in Newark,He has sold Newark out to the right wing and corporate vampires.

posted by: Gary highsmith on September 9, 2011  6:10am

If you were looking for someone to serve as the top cop in the state of Connecticut, would you want someone who has never been an officer?  If you were looking for someone to lead the Connecticut Bar Association, would you be okay with a non-lawyer?  If you were looking for someone to serve as the leader of all surgeons in the state, would you like for him or her to have done some surgeries?  Then tell me it’s okay for someone with absolutely no teaching or school or district leadership to be in charge?  Stop handing education over to the vastly unqualified who want to experiment with the lives of children, especially Black and Latino children.  Ironically, education is not some philosophical exercise to be used as conversation fodder for after-dinner talks.  This is life or death, literally, and such dire circumstances call for real leadership.  End quid pro quo appointments, and give educators and education the appropriate level of respect.

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