I knew something wasn’t right when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on Oprah that he’d be making a very generous gift of $100 million dollars to Newark, New Jersey in 2010. It wasn’t that I didn’t have faith in Oprah or Zuckerberg or even the very likable Corey Booker. I could care less about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The problem is, I have no faith in big government.
Back then, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Christie and Zuckerberg founded the startup: Education Foundation. Zuckerberg was excited to see “a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation,” come to life and the money would be spent on retaining the best teachers, and creating environments that would produce successful students and, one day, graduates.
Newark needs the help. It is a city wrought with crime. Its graduation rate is about 67%.
A recent expose in The New Yorker reports that “more than twenty million dollars of Zuckerberg’s gift and matching donations went to consulting firms with various specialties: public relations, human resources, communications, data analysis, [and] teacher evaluation.” Many of the consultants were being paid upwards of $1,000 a day.
Today, the money is pretty much gone.
The New Yorker goes on to say that, “despite millions of dollars spent on community engagement — (Booker, Christie or Zuckerberg) have yet to hold tough, open conversations with the people of Newark about exactly how much money the district has, where it is going, and what students aren’t getting as a result.”
This, my dear friends, is a damn shame. Read the full report on this debacle here.