The Social Education Network

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nancy Solomon, independent reporter and producer of the Peabody Award-winning radio documentary "Mind the Gap: Why Good Schools are Failing Black Students"  talks about Facebook's $100 million pledge to help Newark schools.


Nancy Solomon

Comments [18]


How is this "pledge" going to be tracked? The hedge fund managers in New York who bought t.v. advertisements and slick mailers attacking the teachers' union here probably spent a pretty penny, not one cent of which actually entered the classroom to assist in educating our children. One-hundred million dollars is chump change when you look at the actual ongoing costs of running a public school system.

Even the whoring that went on at the local school level to get Title I funding under Obama's new, relaxed guidelines has now turned once stable, middle class schools into Title I schools, with all the associations therein.

This pledge, its conditions, and its untimely announcement -- it's all politics as usual, with little hope for meaningful and positive change. No, I'm not a teacher, but I have watched Klein's reforms in my neighborhood transform once high-performing schools into some of the worst.

By the way, how does a guy become a billionaire from setting up a free social network? Oh, yeah. Advertising. It's all hype, self-promotion -- smoke and mirrors.

Oct. 02 2010 03:02 PM
g.e.Taylor from Bklyn., NY

Zuckerberg is not the main beneficiary of this narrative: he has pledged $20 million for each of the next 5 years (that's the $100 million); the $20 million per year is aimed at attracting additional gifts of philanthropy ($40 million has been received so far); so now we have $28 million to supplement an $800 million per year operating budget; the actual adult beneficiary is Mayor Booker who, by virtue of his relationship with Zuckerberg, has been able to front $28 million for each of the next 5 years to have primary executive control over $800 million dollars (a total of $4 billion dollars over the next 5 years).
I don't begrudge the Mayor his opportunity to do good. I pray he is not the usual avaricious politician that we have grown so used to.

Sep. 27 2010 10:37 PM
$20,000 per child ? Why not pay parents to do it? from the land of Reason.

The report today stated that it costs $20,000 per child per year to educate
kids in many of the nation's failing school systems.

This suggests a way to :
(1) improve childhood education
(2) improve the living standards of poor households.
(3) reduce unemployment by creating meaningful and stable jobs.
(4) increase the time parents can spend with their kids.
(5) give children strong incentives to study, and parents strong incentives to
become heavily involved in ensuring that
their children learn.


The job would consist of :
(1) teaching children from an approved
(2) going to classes in the evenings designed for parent-educators.
(3) Frequent (monthly) testing to make sure students were at least up to existing public school standards.

BOTH students and parents would be paid
MORE (a "good student bonus") if the students did better than public school averages.

Parents whose kids did not perform sufficiently well for several months would
be given intensive retraining, and if this
did not correct the problem, they would
be "fired" as their child's teacher.
(Another parent or suitable household member - for example a grandparent - could take the job, or the child could return to the public system).

Parent-teachers would be given a fixed salary per child trained (with a maximum of 2). They would then teach their family's kids. If the students excelled, the parent-teacher would get a 20 % bonus at year-end. The child would also get a $1000 personal reward for excellence.

This clearly links being a good student with financial security and improved earnings.
It also will help family income and reduce unemployment. It will provide the security needed for families to be stable and thrive in these difficult times.

(The amount should be based on the average cost of educating a NON-special needs student - and comparisons would also be made with the non-special needs
students in the child's school district to keep assessment fair).

Perhaps the best way to make sure children are well educated is to directly
and explicitly pay one of their parents
(or some other qualified family member)
to be their teacher.

Sep. 27 2010 08:43 PM

why would zuckerburg care about this movie.
will people stop using facebook after they see it? i think not.

Sep. 27 2010 02:52 PM
patti from Paterson

As someone who has her children in an [failing] inner-city school system, i can say a couple things about the donations to Newark.

1) Any $$$$ helps. Due to budget cuts, which are at leat 2-fold in cities (education cuts, Abbott funding cuts, Distressed city cuts), there are tangible needs in our school system. For instance, my children's school no longer has teachers for art, music, foreign language, nor the library.

2) It is NOT just the parents. There are many involved, committed parents in these schools.

3) Gaining local control is needed.
Having Trenton in charge of our schools has added a layer of beaurocracy and distance that has not benefited our cshools.

4) It may not be the 'silver bullet', but it is something; and has put the issue of inner-city and failing schools to the national forefront.

Sep. 27 2010 11:41 AM

Zuckerberg's contribution is a terrible idea. It sets a precedent that money will solve our public education problems even though it is not a solution. Property taxes are far above what most can afford already. This will cause every town to try to spend more money on their own school systems, since it is falsely believed that more money is the answer. My town now has astroturf, stadium lights, apple laptops for every student and teachers average 90k a year. These should not be options. taxes have doubled, long term residents are forced to leave their homes, it's unaffordable.

This will create a system where only a few systems receive those huge donations, and everyone else will try to get them but will not.

The same is true for the new divisions being created among teachers. Teachers that are assumed to be the best are having their salaries doubled. Paying those teachers more and more money doesn't help anyone but those individuals. What will this do to the dynamic within the majority of teachers who don't get these huge pay raises.

These are all the wrong motivations and the wrong answers. Most teachers have their heart in it and try their best to educate, more money has no effect and is a waste of money we don't have.

Zuckerberg may have his heart in it, but it's a terrible solution.

Sep. 27 2010 11:05 AM
g.e.Taylor from Bklyn., NY

Thanks for getting the total school operating budget into the conversation.

$100 million; potentially $200 million if the matching fund is complete; nothing to say that donations beyond that sum will not be solicited or received.

(Excellent, Mr. Leher on your question about upcoming budget cuts)

The yearly operating budget was stated to be $800 million per year.

I understand that the MONEY is to be given to a foundation with the purpose of improving the Newark schools. I further understand that the $100 million dollars is to be paid over a period of 5 years. [I don't whether the matching funds will be distributed over the same 5 year schedule.]

Basically, the factoids can be arranged into the following narrative:

Mayor Booker has gained a position as the primary director of the $800 million per year operating budget by means of a $20 to $40 million dollar per year donation from Mr. Zukerberg and other donors.
(if the matching funds are released at the same rate of the initial gift)

Depending how the actual governance of the foundation's funds is arranged, has the community gained in financial/educational benefits what they have surrendered in community control?

It's a question.

Sep. 27 2010 11:04 AM
Randall Richards from Brooklyn

I'm wondering if the Zukerberg donation to Newark schools denotes the new way that municipalities (and states) will now fund their operating expenses now that we refuse to tax ourselves to pay for anything. By giving ever larger tax cuts to the wealthy, we now find ourselves on bended knee to a 26 year Oligarch who is bestowing upon Newark his kind munificence - for his own PR reasons. This must be how the Republicans and the Tea Party think we should pay for civic needs in their new worldview. Can it work in the long run? I don't think so.

Sep. 27 2010 10:55 AM
Amalene from NJ

Perhaps Mark Zuckerberg wants to redeem himself. You can't blame him for that. Only he knows in his heart of hearts what the true motivation is for his generous donation.

Sep. 27 2010 10:46 AM

Why Newark?? Is he from there?

I think bernie from bklyn nailed it.

Sep. 27 2010 10:41 AM
Robert from NYC

I have to say this is the first, here on this show, that I'm hearing about distrust and disliked Mr Booker when all these years he's been praised and raised to demigod by the media! I've never heard anything negative about him, in fact I've heard nothing but the highest praise for him. Hmf, go figure!

Sep. 27 2010 10:38 AM
Mike from Long Island

I think the $100 mil gift from Zuckerburg is timed to conincide with the release of the movie "The Social Network." Early rumors and reviews seem to indicate the movie does not paint Zuckerburg in the best light. Facebook is a giant and has alot to lose If the movie were to negatively effect the image of its founder.

Sep. 27 2010 10:37 AM

I urge people to read the excerpt from Roger Hodge's book "The Mendacity of Hope" in the October issue of Harper's Magazine. Particularly the quote from Supreme Court Justice Kennedy's majority opinion on January's "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission." This is now officially a pay-to-play system, and Winfrey unsurprisingly is endorsing it.

Sep. 27 2010 10:35 AM
Robert from NYC

Well then maybe he should use the money to keep the libraries open. That's education isn't it!!! Yes it is.

Sep. 27 2010 10:35 AM
Chriss from Montclair

As an Essex County and NJ resident that has given Newark a between 750-950 MILLION A YEAR for the last decade or so– good luck with your 100 million.

But telll me, will the kids learn at 21k a year per pupil instead of the current 20k a year?

Sep. 27 2010 10:35 AM
David from Queens

Why are people who got really lucky with their tech companies suddenly determining education policy? Rich jerks should use some other avenue to reduce their guilt about being so over-paid.

Sep. 27 2010 10:34 AM
Alicia from NYC

How to use the money? Restock (or create) school libraries in each school with great fiction and nonfiction books, audiobooks and ebooks for kids to read and enjoy. The way kids do better on standardized tests is by becoming readers.

Sep. 27 2010 10:34 AM
bernie from bklyn

all the money in the world wouldn't change the school system in newark. it's not the funding, it's the parents.

Sep. 27 2010 10:32 AM

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