Oprah will have Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg on her show today announcing his “gift” of 100 million dollars to the Newark, New Jersey school system. It all sounds very generous but calling it a gift is the wrong term.
Newark, New Jersey is the largest city in a state that lost $400 million dollars in federal school money last year. There has been a lot of talk about what exactly caused the state to lose this federal funding. Most likely, it was not due to someone’s incompetence when filling out the forms but a cover-up of corrupt activity.
Not to worry, because the CEO of Facebook has come to the rescue. Well, at least for the students of Newark that is. Because of the loss of this money, property taxes are going up and many school programs state-wide were cut. The poor students of Newark will no longer suffer or will they?
What most people who hear this story do not realize is that this money is not a donation but a grant with strings attached. Mark Zuckerberg wants Corey Booker, the mayor of Newark, to run the schools the way he sees fit. Privatizing formerly public schools is nothing new but relying on a single benefactor is dangerous. What happens when the money runs out?
The other problem with this scenario is that Corey Booker, next to Governor Christie, is one of the most ambitious politicians in the state. This plan would involve Governor Christie and Mayor Booker running the school system in Newark. The state’s largest teacher union is being very quiet about this whole announcement which is suspicious as well.
Governor Christie had said last week that he was against the idea of state employees holding two jobs but it seems that in this case, he makes an exception. He would still be governor but also oversee the Newark school system. Mayor Booker would be able to do what he wants as long as the governor agrees. This just seems wrong.
Having this plan in place takes away the voice of the people in Newark. The state or Governor Christie and Mayor Booker should not be allowed to have so much power. Many wonder how much of this 100 million dollars will wind up in the pockets of these ambitious politicians and how many schools will actually be helped by this plan.