After New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration shamefully lost $400 million in Federal education funds for the State because of an error in their application, the school system in the Garden State was looking woefully undervalued and critically underfunded. Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, pledged $100 million of his own money to specifically help the blighted Newark, New Jersey school system.
Here are the devilish details of the Zuckerberg gift:
The school plan calls for Christie to use his authority as the ultimate supervisor of the Newark district to name Booker a “special assistant to the governor” for education in the city. It is a maneuver never attempted before and one that includes some bold political footwork. Only the Legislature or the voters have the legal authority to decide the management structure of school districts. But under this agreement the state is still, technically, running Newark schools. Christie would be able to overrule Booker if the two disagree, the sources said.
Naming Booker to essentially run the city’s long-beleaguered schools was a precondition for Zuckerberg, according to sources. Without that, the Facebook billionaire told officials he would not spend his philanthropic dollars in Brick City.
I’ve heard some people on television cynically claim the Zuckerberg gift is a way to diffuse attention from the Facebook movie about him that is hitting movie theaters — and if that’s true, then I hope we have a dozen more Zuckerberg movies in the making to really help pound away at the continued rebuilding the Newark school system at a $100 million a pop 12 more times.
It doesn’t matter why Zuckerberg is trying to help save Newark — and yes, the entire city is vitally centered on the rotting buildings and infrastructure of the school system — it only matters that he’s stepping up and putting his money where our hearts should be: Salvaging all the public schools in the USA with a cash infusion.
What Zuckerberg has done, that no one else cared to do, was to bring hope and vitality back to a withering, urban, core — and with more people like Zuckerberg standing up to stand down the decay in our older, city, cores — all of America is made better in that bargain.