Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pryor Comes Home, Promises Charter Boost

Great news from CT as well: here's an article about Stefan Pryor, one of the founders of the pioneering Amistad Academy in New Haven (which has grown into the Achievement First network of charter schools), returning to Amistad 12 years later as the CT Sec. of Education, something I'll bet nobody even dreamed of…:

It was a familiar chant for the students and for Pryor, one of the founders of the school, which first opened in 1999 on James Street. The public school, which began with 84 students in 5th and 6th grade, has grown to serve 734 kids in grades K to 8.

Pryor was part of a planning group that lobbied the state for more charter school seats, then created what is now one of the oldest and most well-established charter schools in the state. He started the planning process while working as an aide to Mayor John DeStefano then left to finish Yale Law School and launch the school. Pryor said he traveled North America with Achievement First CEO Dacia Toll to look at effective urban schools before the founding group decided on the charter model.

Achievement First, Amistad's parent company, now runs a network of 20 schools in New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport and Brooklyn, NY.

"None of us could have possibly dreamed" that the experiment would take off as it did, Pryor said. The most surprising development, he said, is that he's now found himself in charge of the state's education system.

He credited Amistad with "the attainment of the allegedly and apparently impossible"—teaching low-income kids to excel and defy the achievement gap. Connecticut still has the worst achievement gap in the country, Pryor noted.

He called for Amistad's model to be replicated to further close that gap.

Amistad's $34 million rehab project was paid for by 80 percent state funds. It was the first charter school in Connecticut to be rehabbed as part of the state school construction program, which previously was reserved for non-charter public schools.


Pryor Comes Home, Promises Charter Boost

by Melissa Bailey | Nov 16, 2011 3:24 pm 

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