City leaders, University administrators and education officials have unanimously criticized a report, released last week, that calls on Yale to contribute funds to New Haven’s school system.
The report, titled “Schools, Taxes and Jobs,” was written by a researcher for Yale’s unions, Antony Dugdale, and released by the Connecticut Center for a New Economy. It is the most recent in a series of union-affiliated publications emphasizing Yale’s responsibilities to the community.
Using an analysis of the city’s tax rolls, the report suggested there is a discrepancy between the amount of money the city takes in because of Yale’s presence in New Haven and the amount New Haven should receive. Arguing that the city’s quality of education is linked with its quality of jobs, the report suggested that Yale pay between $2 and $6.4 million to provide more teachers and classrooms in order to lower class sizes in public schools.
“Yale has both a self-interest and a responsibility to make direct contributions to our city’s public schools,” the report said.
But city leaders did not agree that Yale should bear the responsibility for funding the city’s schools.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who mentioned the report in an address to the Yale Corporation Friday night, said funding schools was the job of the state and not of the University.
“It’s unclear to me what the intention of the report was,” DeStefano said. “You can take it at face value for what it says: Test scores are low, which we knew; small class sizes are better, which we knew; and then, that the University should fund it. — But I just don’t think that the University should do the state’s job for it.”
DeStefano added that Yale could undertake programs to benefit the city, including increasing homeownership in the city and raising the level of wealth among the city’s citizens.
“The University does have a role to play with education, but I said I felt it had more to do with other capacities,” the mayor said.
The president of the New Haven Board of Education, Carlos Torre, said he was unfamiliar with the report but added that overcrowding in New Haven’s schools has always been an issue and is not a problem unique to this city. He said he was wary of pointing to Yale as a potential savior.
“Yale has been a good neighbor,” Torre said. “I don’t know how Yale can help us with our crowding. I don’t know that we can expect an educational institution to give money to another educational institution.”
Torre added that the school system’s problems require more than quick fixes.
“These things take time,” he said. “You don’t just say it and have it the next day.”
In supporting the report’s proposals, the Rev. Scott Marks, CCNE’s New Haven director, said they reflected the relationship he hoped Yale would develop with the city.
“Yale belongs to us too, because it’s part of our community,” Marks said. “It’s a great university, and the New Haven school system could definitely have a bit of greatness added to it. And I feel if Yale could be as good as it could be — I think the [school system] should be too.”
But Michael Morand, Yale’s associate vice president for New Haven and state affairs, disputed the premise that Yale owes New Haven money. He said that New Haven receives more direct revenue from Yale than any other city does from a college or university.
“It is important to recognize the report, in its zeal to score cheap political points, seeks to confuse people and fails to recognize that every college and university in America is exempt from property taxes,” Morand said.
Prior reports released by CCNE and written by union researchers have included “Good Jobs, Strong Communities” and “Incubating Biotech: Yale Prospers, New Haven Waits.”
The release of the report on the schools coincided with the preparations for contract negotiations between the University and locals 34 and 35, which represent nearly 4,000 Yale workers. Negotiations begin Wednesday after a protracted pre-negotiation period, during which University and union leaders worked with a consultant to assess problems in their historically strained relationship.
Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky characterized the report as “background noise” to the process but said she did not expect it to affect the negotiations.
John Wilhelm ’67, the president of the Yale unions’ parent organization, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, said Yale would need to step up its commitment to the city in order to improve its role as an employer.
“Certainly the educational system is the obvious place for an educational institution to help,” Wilhelm said.
The Federation of Hospital and University Employees, which also includes locals 34 and 35, has also sponsored several recent reports, including one investigating Yale’s investment interests in Colorado and Yale’s past involvement with slavery. After the August publication of “Yale, Slavery and Abolition” — which was co-written by Dugdale — a community group began discussing with the University the possibility of reparations.
–Staff Reporter James Collins contributed to this story