Zuckerberg's Newark Schools $100M Donation Went to Waste: New Yorker

Image: Zuckerberg's Newark Schools $100M Donation Went to Waste: New Yorker In this file photos from left to right, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, US Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 10:47 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Mark Zuckerberg's Newark schools donation of $100 million in 2010 reportedly evaporated into thin air while the struggling New Jersey public school district has shown little to no noticeable improvement in student performance, according to a recently published report in The New Yorker.

According to the magazine, the generous donation — which Zuckerberg claimed would transform Newark into "a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation" — has been spent primarily on consultant fees and labor contracts, while the shining goal of educational excellence never came to fruition.

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The money was given to Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to create the Startup: Education foundation, which aimed to reform the struggling school system by closing low-performing public schools and replacing them with "themed" high schools and charters that would create enriching environments and result in higher graduation rates, Business Insider reported.

Zuckerberg made the announcement during a sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey in September 2010.

Despite the hiring of 50 new principals, the creation of four new public high schools, and a new teachers’ contract that tied pay to performance, among other changes, the Newark public high school graduation rate remains dismal at about 67 percent.

According to The New Yorker, many of the consultants hired with the generous donation received upwards of $1,000 a day with "more than $20 million of Zuckerberg’s gift and matching donations [having gone] to consulting firms with various specialties: public relations, human resources, communications, data analysis, [and] teacher evaluation," between 2010 and 2012.

Since the massive cash infusion has been made, Booker has went on to become a New Jersey senator, while Christie, who has long been viewed as a Republican presidential hopeful for 2016, continues to attempt to rebuild his reputation following the Bridgegate scandal.

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It is unclear whether Zuckerberg plans to invest any additional funds into the Newark Public School district.

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