Published On: Thu, Aug 20th, 2015

This is a tell about Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation, Newark schools, and a political mess

"It’s a prize that, for generations, has enriched seemingly everyone, except Newark’s children."

 

Gift

 

In 2010 Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg agreed to donate $100 million of matching funds to Newark schools.

“It’s a prize that, for generations, has enriched seemingly everyone, except Newark’s children.”, claim a new book called “The Prize” by Washington Post reporter Dale Russakoff.

This is the end of a sad story which started in a good will.

“When Mark Zuckerberg announced to a cheering Oprah audience his $100 million pledge to transform the downtrodden schools of Newark, New Jersey, then mayor Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie were beside him, vowing to help make Newark “a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation.”

“But their plans soon ran into the city’s seasoned education players, fierce protectors of their billion-dollar-a-year system.

“As Cory Booker navigates between his status as “rock star mayor” on Oprah’s stage and object of considerable distrust at home, the tumultuous changes planned by reformers and their highly paid consultants spark a fiery grass-roots opposition stoked by local politicians and union leaders.  The growth of charters forces the hand of Newark’s school superintendent Cami Anderson, who closes, consolidates, or redesigns more than a third of the city’s schools—a scenario on the horizon for many urban districts across America.”

A glowing review of the book in The New York Times by Alex Kotlowitz describes:

Initial funds go to a bevy of consultants, most of them white, most of them well connected, some of whom are getting paid $1, 000 a day. One educator labels them the “school failure industry.” Moreover, it quickly becomes apparent that this is a top-down effort, with politicians and the well-to-do setting the agenda. When Booker sets up a local foundation to handle Zuckerberg’s gift, the seats on the board go only to donors of at least $US5 million. …

Zuckerberg, a newcomer to philanthropy, seems frustrated by the inability to negotiate a union contract that would quickly raise the salaries of promising young teachers and pay substantial merit bonuses for high performers.

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