Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan will give $120 million to Bay Area schools in “underserved communities,” reports the San Jose Mercury News.
“Helping improve the quality of public education in this country is something we both really care about,” write Zuckerberg and Chan in an op-ed essay. Chan was a teacher and is now a pediatrician.
They live in Palo Alto, which has excellent public schools, within easy walking distance of East Palo Alto, a perennially low-performing district.
Zuckerberg gave $100 million gift to Newark public schools and was criticized for spending too much on consultants and failing to raise test scores. But there are signs of progress, the op-ed argues.
Newark now has the leading teacher contract in the country that was developed with teachers to reward good performance. New district and charter schools run by organizations with a track record of success have started, as well as 50 new principals. Across the district, the graduation rate has grown by 10%. It’s still too early to see the full results in Newark, but we’re making progress and have learned a lot about what makes a successful effort.
In the Bay Area, the first $5 million will go to high-poverty school districts in East Palo Alto and Redwood City and to “high-need” San Francisco schools, reports the Mercury News. (East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood district has received millions of dollars from high-tech donors over the years with few results.)
They’ll work with partners “to start new district and charter schools that give people more high-quality choices for their education,” Zuckerberg and Chan write. They also pledge to listen to “local educators and community leaders so that we understand the needs of students.” Priorities are providing computers and connectivity, teacher and principal training and parent outreach.