Zuckerberg on $100 million to Newark

“You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies” is the slogan for The Social Network, a movie that purports to tell the story of how Mark Zuckerberg and friends — soon to be ex-friends — founded Facebook. The boy billionaire is very much an anti-hero.

Now 26 and worth an estimated $6.9 billion, Zuckerberg will give $100 million to Newark’s public schools by creating the Startup Education Foundation, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

Publicity stunt? Zuckerberg claims he’d planned to donate anonymously but was talked out of it. That’s hard to believe.

Worth doing?

School-choice advocate Derrell Bradford says Newark already spends more than $20,000 a year for each of its 40,000 students, but it’s stuck in a status quo that doesn’t serve kids well. “[The gift] is huge leverage for the mayor to get things done rapidly,” says Mr. Bradford, executive director of Excellent Education for Everyone in Newark, which supports charters and vouchers for private school.

Via EdReformer, here’s Zuckerberg’s explanation of why he picked Newark, a city to which he has no personal connection: He believes  Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie can turn the low-performing district into a “symbol of excellence.” If it can be done in Newark public schools, where only 40 percent of kids read and write at grade level by the end of third grade and only 54 percent of high school students graduate — it can be done anywhere.

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  1. And if it can’t be done in Newark… it’s just $100 million of his money thrown down the drain.

  2. Wonder what strings are attached?

  3. Cardinal Fang says:

    I find it very easy to believe that Zuckerberg wanted to donate anonymously but was talked out of it. Many in the philanthropic arena want to publicize donations from high-profile rich people, especially high-profile rich young people, hoping to encourage other rich people to donate.

    If you donate publically, you end up getting pestered for more donations. Zuckerberg has no need for publicity stunts, and if he did want good publicity he could get it for considerably less than $100 million, which is a lot of money even for him.

    I’m no fan of Zuckerberg, but credit where credit is due.

  4. It’ll be interesting to see how quickly $100 million can vanish. No Hawking Paradox here.

  5. Zuckerberg is part of the “give and brag” crowd, where billionaires give their much needed money to entities in dire need of it, but manage a way to make their giving as a means to shape or advance certain policy reforms (even if those reforms are not the right thing to do). Zuckerberg is young, but he is being guided, willingly. I would rather see billionaires like him use their money to help in a way where there is no hidden agenda.

    I work in a public school in a community (with many similarities to a 3rd world country) where we are in desperate need of funds to help our children with wrap around services, and additional tutors. Instead of our school receiving those much needed funds, our overworked teachers are being labeled “failures” for the low test scores of our poor students.

    Oprah’s recent ed reform shows were a publicity stunt with characters who were there to “sell” the American public on the concept of charter schools needed because of “bad teachers”. Unfortunately, billionaires have decided to use their money to shape policy that will benefit them and their “friends” in the end. The charter school movement represents profit centers for billionaires and hedge fund managers. If they are really in it for the children, they’d be at my public school, and many others, helping teachers help their students. Since this isn’t happening, I suggest that teachers and parents do their homework and investigate what’s really going on in public education. These ed reformers are banking on you NOT doing your homework.

  6. @teacherreality — very good comments — the sad fact is most parents have no clue how to learn about much less truly understand what is happening in the public schools much less how good or bad their own child’s teacher truly is or the challenges facing the teacher in their child’s classroom…

    Besides education data (just like all data) is so easily manipulated, normed, etc…the public needs to understand how to read the raw data for their own children…heck the public needs to see the raw data for their own schools…

    The one thing I like about KIPP is they do post all of the children’s scores for whoever wants to see…why isn’t this done in every school?

    Read The Leader in Me…some very interesting results when the schools get the students to “own” their own data and understand how their scores of all kinds impact the classroom goal and how they impact the schools goal of performance testing…really interesting things seem to be happening in these schools so much so that the tests and the results are secondary because the kids are so engaged in school they soar through the test…

  7. “If it can be done in Newark public schools, where only 40 percent of kids read and write at grade level by the end of third grade and only 54 percent of high school students graduate — it can be done anywhere”…this is true only if “anywhere” has the same or better leadership than exists in Newark. If you throw money at a school system where the leadership is weak and the organization is dysfunctional, you are just wasting money.


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