Stefan Pryor was named state commissioner of education in Connecticut two years ago.

He was a co-founder of the Achievement First charter chain,  which has achieved a certain notoriety for its sky-high suspension rates (even in kindergarten), inflated graduation rates, and its very low numbers of English language learners (or none at all).

Pryor has favored the charter sector at every turn, and Achievement First whenever possible.

Jonathan Pelto reports that Pryor selected an Achievement First administrator to run the state’s new “turnaround” division, even though the person in question has never been certified to teach in Connecticut.

Pelto writes:

Pryor’s choice for the job, Morgan Barth, reports that he was a founding teacher at Achievement First’s Elm City Preparatory Academy in New Haven and then went on to serve as principal there and then a principal at Achievement First Bridgeport’s Middle School.

However, Morgan Barth has never held Connecticut certification to be a teacher or an administrator.

The news means that the time he spent working at Achievement First, Inc. prior to July 1, 2010 was in direct violation of Connecticut state law.

In an email that went out yesterday from Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Pryor wrote, “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.”

But despite coming to Connecticut nine years ago, Morgan Barth never bothered to acquire certification under Connecticut’s teacher and administrator certification law.

In 2010, with the assistance of a $100,000 lobbying contract with one of Connecticut’s most influential lobbying firms, Achievement First, Inc. was able to convince the Connecticut General Assembly to pass a law that exempted Connecticut’s charter schools from Connecticut’s mandatory certification requirements.  As a result of the law, Connecticut’s charter schools could have up to 30% of their staff non-certified starting in July 2010.

Thus, in the years preceding 2010, Morgan Barth was working as an uncertified teacher and/or administrator, which was illegal at that time.

Many “reformers” see certification as an unnecessary hoop or hurdle through which talented people must jump. But every profession has some form of qualifying process, by examination or course-taking or something.

Hairdressers need to be licensed by the state. So do morticians.

Should education function without any qualifications for those who would teach or administer schools?

That is not reform. That takes us back to about 1850.

Funny, Connecticut was one of the very first states to insist on professionalism in education, under the leadership of Henry Barnard, who was Pryor’s predecessor as state commissioner of education in the nineteenth century.

He must be turning in his grave as he sees what Governor Malloy and Stefan Pryor are doing to demolish his work.