Pryor heading to Rhode Island as secretary of commerce

Outgoing Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor has been nominated to lead the Department of Commerce in Rhode Island — a state with the third-highest unemployment rate in the country.

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, announced the nomination Tuesday, saying Pryor “has the depth of experience and the drive to help me lead Rhode Island’s comeback.”

Before coming to Connecticut, Pryor was the deputy mayor and director of economic and housing development in Newark. He also served as the president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which was created to develop a master plan for the World Trade Center site and a design for the September 11th memorial.

During the campaign, Raimondo’s plan to create jobs in Rhode Island focused on rebuilding roads and schools and attracting manufacturing companies.

“Governor-elect Raimondo is focused on attracting and growing businesses in Rhode Island, with the goal of making this state stronger for everyone. I will work every day with that goal in mind and will aim to deliver results for Rhode Island,” Pryor said in a statement.

Pryor became Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education commissioner three years ago. During his tenure he helped craft controversial proposals to link teacher evaluations to standardized test results and allow the state to intervene in the lowest-performing schools, including by reassigning teachers to other schools.

The commissioner generated praise for some of the changes he championed, including expanding state-funded preschool seats, directing more state funding to the lowest-achieving schools, increasing the number of seats in magnet and charter schools and having school accountability measures focus on more than just test scores.

“I want to congratulate Commissioner Pryor on his appointment to serve as Rhode Island’s Secretary of Commerce,” Malloy said in a statement. “Together, we’ve made historic investments in Connecticut’s public education system, allocating additional resources to our historically low-performing schools. As a result, we are narrowing the achievement gap and experiencing noticeable gains in our graduation rates.

“I applaud Governor-elect Gina Raimondo on her choice to nominate Stefan to serve in this newly-created role, and have the utmost confidence that he brings the necessary skill and determination to grow Rhode Island’s economy,” Malloy said.