The donor dollars for Mayor John DeStefano Jr.’s expansive school reform plans are starting to flow.
Fifteen local private businesses and institutions have donated $103,500 to get the school reform organization The New Teacher Project to improve New Haven public schools, city officials announced at a press conference at Quinnipiac University on Thursday. Crystal Harmon, a policy and research partner at The New Teacher Project, said at the press conference that city and officials for The New Haven Project will discuss over the next few days what work will be done by the organization. DeStefano said broadly that the organization will work on how city officials recruit and retain teachers.
“It’s really a symbol of a new kind of partnership the private sector can have with the city of New Haven, and [New Haven Superintendent of Schools Reginald] Mayo and Assistant Superintendent [for Portfolio and Performance Management Garth] Harries,” Jeffrey Klaus, who spearheaded the fundraising effort, said at the press conference.
The money — which is a combination of the funds raised by the 15 businesses, as well as a matching contributing by The New Teacher Project — will be handled by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, which will work with school officials to implement The New Teacher Project’s reforms, DeStefano said Thursday.
He said at the press conference that he first listed the help of The New Teacher Project in July.
“They’ve got a pretty good track record,” DeStefano said.
Harmon said at the conference that New Haven is a national leader in school reform.
“Today we are excited to become your partner and to join your effort to give all students an outstanding education,” she said.
The fundraising announcement is one in a series of steps toward public school reform. It comes a little over a week after the New Haven teachers’ union overwhelmingly ratified its contract, which allows for teachers to have a voice in the reform effort and for student progress to factor into teacher evaluation.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan last week praised the Elm City for the new teacher’s union contract.
“This shows a willingness to go into areas that used to be seen as untouchable,” Duncan told the Wall Street Journal.
Still, fundraising will have to continue, DeStefano said at the conference. He said he expects the city will “reach out” for over $100 million for education reform. Klaus said in an interview after the conference that state, federal and national philanthropic group officials may provide those funds.
“Because New Haven’s plan is so ambitious and so bold, it’s actually attracted the attention of national funders,” said Klaus, the education chair for the Regional Leadership Council, which is part of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.
William Ginsberg, the president and CEO of the Community Foundation, one of the top donors to the New Teacher Project, said his foundation will work with national philanthropic foundations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to help bring money to the city’s public school system.
The Community Foundation, Yale-New Haven Hospital, and the NewAlliance Foundation and Bank each donated $15,000 to the New Teacher Project.
“There are really three words that are essential to our business: health, partnership, kids,” Yale-New Haven Vice President of Human Resources Paul Patton said during the conference. “It’s easy to say yes to kids.”
Law firm Berchem, Moses & Devlin donated $10,000, and the rest of the businesses — including Webster Bank, for which Klaus is the regional president — donated $5,000 or less.