“Hoping to counter poverty’s toll on children,” Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg and his pediatrician wife, Priscilla Chan, are starting a tuition-free private preschool and K-8 school, reports Sharon Noguchi in the San Jose Mercury News. The Primary School will provide free education and health care to children in East Palo Alto, a low-income, minority community.
Zuckerberg and Chan donated $100 million to improve Newark schools in 2010. That paid for controversy and political turmoil.
“Those children in high performing charters are better off. But those in the district schools are not,” says Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize.
She “concludes that Zuckerberg neglected to understand the complexity of public education, failed to talk to people on the ground and approved top-down changes that provoked outrage and resistance,” writes Noguchi.
By starting a private school, the couple will have total control of their project, which is inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone.
The new school, which will serve 700 children and their families, will be a multi-million-dollar commitment. A local health clinic “will provide comprehensive health care from prenatal care through medical, dental and mental-health services,” reports Noguchi. The Zuckerberg-Chans already have donated $5 million.
Chan tutored in inner-city Boston as a Harvard undergrad. “It became evident I could do all I wanted, but there were much bigger problems that were preventing these kids from succeeding in school,” she told Noguchi.
Chan taught science at a San Jose private school before going to medical school. She now treats indigent patients at San Francisco General Hospital.