Thursday, September 23, 2010

Facebook Founder Favors Newark With $100 Million Gift For Education

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has opted to donate $100 million to the Newark, New Jersey education system to improve education in the city.

It's a huge gift.

Local and state officials (to say nothing of some in the media) will be quick to say that the money will come in handy because the state lost out on Race to the Top funds because of a clerical error, even though Race to the Top wasn't about putting money in the classroom but rather to design new education programs that will be implemented at some point in the future.

Newark has long been a focus of state education funds because it was one of the Abbott Districts. That pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the school system for years on end, with little tangible results. In fact, the state has been running the city school system for more than a decade because of poor performance.

It is hoped that this money will be better spent. The announcement, which will be officially announced on Oprah Winfrey's show, will also feature Gov. Chris Christie and Mayor Cory Booker. Christie is also expected to hand control of the school district back to the city.

The Star Ledger is also reporting that the $100 million gift is a matching grant, which means that a possible $200 million might end up going to Newark schools.

I remain hopeful that the money ends up in the classrooms, rather than in the pockets of bureaucrats and a bureaucracy that has done the students of Newark no favors for years on end. I hope that the money goes to fund arts and science classes, which are both sorely in need of money.

So, why did Zuckerberg decide to donate the money now? Maybe it has something to do with burnishing his image upon the imminent release of a new movie that takes a less than flattering look at Zuckerberg and the rise of Facebook.

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