Daniel Zhao

On Wednesday, New Haven Board of Education member Edward Joyner announced his support for mayoral candidate Justin Elicker SOM ’10, FES ’10 over incumbent mayor Toni Harp.

In a Sept. 4 op-ed in the New Haven Register, Joyner noted the dire need for change in the city, particularly surrounding the educational issues faced by the New Haven Public Schools network. He emphasized the necessity of a “child- and family-centered” system while also advocating for a mayor who will aid the Board in selecting “competent” staff — a sore point for Joyner, whose relationship with NHPS Superintendent Carol Birks has become increasingly strained over the past few months. According to Joyner, both Elicker’s ability to speak Spanish in the multi-cultural Elm City and his dedication to avoiding political patronage are major plus factors in his campaign for mayor.

“Justin and I have had many conversations about his vision for New Haven Public Schools,” Joyner wrote. “It is clear that he views education reform through a child and family lens and will not allow undue political interference to undercut the authority of the school board.”

The Board of Education has recently struggled with a massive deficit, and some attempts to find financial footing have included teacher reassignments and bus rerouting. But parents and teachers swiftly revolted against those cost-saving measures, arguing that some of NHPS’s strategies fail to meet the needs of students.

Despite recent concerns, however, the data indicates that some aspects of NHPS may have improved under Harp’s tenure. Chronic absenteeism, or the measure of how many students miss 10 percent or more of the school year, is down since Harp took office. In addition, graduation rates and the amount of students staying in college have also increased according to the New Haven Independent.

Joyner has endorsed Harp’s opposers in past elections. In Sept. 2017, he released a statement endorsing Marcus Paca for mayor of New Haven, praising his “practical approach to leadership” and management experience in small businesses and community development, as well as his previous service on city boards and commissions. Paca was handily defeated by Harp in the primary two years ago.

In Nov. 2017, Joyner said he was not “opposed” to Harp as a candidate, but that he did not agree with her policies and priorities on education. Joyner said he supports an all-elected board, and disapproves of the mayor serving in a leadership position on the board of education. Currently, only two of the seven board members are elected.

Elicker’s involvement in New Haven education has unfolded over the past several years. His daughter attends kindergarten at Christopher Columbus Family Academy at 255 Blatchley Ave., and he served as an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University according to his campaign website.

Wednesday’s op-ed is not the first time that Joyner has made his opinion of Elicker publicly known.

“Everything about him I know suggests to me that he is uncompromisingly ethical,” Joyner told the Hartford Courant in July. “He has a real ability to connect to people.”

Joyner was first elected to the city’s board of education in 2015.

Valerie Pavilonis | valerie.pavilonis@yale.edu .