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Newark Public Schools to Receive $100 Million

This article was written by in Charity, Education. 13 comments.

Earlier this year, the State of New Jersey missed out in $400 million in federal aid for public schools due to an administrative error and the political inability to take the educational needs of the state’s students seriously. This money would have been part of the federal Race to the Top program, a set of competitive grants awarded to states that show they could, theoretically, spend the money effectively.

While this fair state missed out on Race to the Top funds, New Jersey qualified to receive $268 million from the federal jobs program. This money is being distributed to districts, with some receiving a few hundred thousand dollars and some receiving over a million, though the share calculation has been kept private. The federal government is not the only entity interested in putting money into public schools to aid the neediest programs.

The public schools in the city of Newark will win the funding race thanks to the young founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Newark mayor Cory Booker met Zuckerberg only in July, but the two have been communicating since then. This fast friendship has resulted in the wunderkind donating $100 million in the form of Facebook stock to Newark’s schools. Unfortunately, the value of this stock is based on a Facebook total valuation of $33 billion which may be a bit optimistic.

Why Newark? Why not. Zuckerberg has no direct connection with the city, but the district is surely needier than the his hometown’s public schools in White Plains, New York.

With a movie coming out in October that is sure to paint the Facebook founder perhaps unfairly in a negative light, a generous philanthropic gesture could do wonders for his image. Money is money, though, and to the students in Newark who will be the beneficiaries of this generosity, the donor’s motivation shouldn’t be too important. I would like to believe that the money will be managed properly and find its way to the direct benefit of students in the city.

Published or updated September 27, 2010.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

You obviously do not live in New Jersey. Any informed resident of this state knows that Newark is NOT under funded. In fact, it is one of the districts which receive plenty of money from towns all over the state to fund its schools. The money is there but isn’t used wisely. That district spends as much as $400,000 per classroom but unfortunately the money isn’t spent on the students. Do you know that there are more than 400 administrators (not teachers) who earn six figure salaries in that school district?

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avatar 2 Luke Landes

I am a resident of New Jersey. I’ve spent a lot of time in Newark and I know a bit about the city. There is a wide disparity between everything in Newark that is “funded” and “underfunded” and the school district is the same. Some of Newark’s public schools are still failing, regardless of the money that is currently coming in. There is a need; but I agree that it’s important to see how the money is being allocated. It’s quite possible the current funding isn’t getting to the right places, and I never said in the article Zuckerberg’s money would solve every problem, and I didn’t say Newark was the neediest school district, only that it is needier than White Plains.

Everything about the Facebook deal is questionable.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

I also live in NJ and have a child in 1st grade in public school. I volunteered for library work at the school last year and heard from one of the librarians that, because of the way the union works, a ~$40K/yr teacher was laid off and a ~$80K/yr administrator was then moved into the teaching vacancy in order for the school/district to save money. Of course, if they laid off the $80K/yr administrator they would have been able to hire ANOTHER $40K/yr teacher and still save $40K/yr in salary. But that’s not the way the union works and the state has to suffer for it.

Also, I have serious doubts as to whether or not more money is the solution to educating children in one of the most depressed areas in the country. There is only so much a school can do…once the children go home they need to live in an environment that’s conducive to learning. If the parents are unable to nurture their kids in this way, it’s going to be very difficult for those children to reach their true potential.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

I was shocked this morning while reading the news to find that I and President Obama agree – we rarely do. Not to get political but he was reported as saying “Money alone can’t solve school predicament.” As both he and Jersey Mom pointed out the systemic problems far out weight the funding problems. Firing bad teachers, slimming down bloated administrations, extending the school year and concentrating on fundamentals are needed actions. I’m not from Newark, but when I look at the failing school systems near me (St. Louis) I can’t help but wonder how we got here. Are there too many fatherless families? Is there too much poverty? There’s certainly too much crime. These may well be some of the root causes, and they are having a horrible impact on our future and our schools. Although I’m not familiar with this deal’s details, most schools (Colleges/Universities) sell stock donations the day they get them – so valuation may not be a problem.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

Questionable indeed.

Please be mindful of this fact, 5 to 6 years ago MySpace was valued at approximately 12 Billion dollars and now rumors are flying around that MySpace is for sale and the asking price is 500 Million (yep, Million not Billion).

There are pending lawsuits against Facebook in Germany and Canada for selling user information (yep, they are selling your information no matter what they say, they are indeed selling your information). We’ll see if this site is even around in 5 or 6 years.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

I’m also well-acquainted with Newark, and I’m not sure if this money is going to go to the right places, either. The state of NJ took control of the school district in 1995, and I don’t know that there’s been any improvement since then. The city already had the highest per-student spending in the state. I think this is just throwing money at the problem.

Today’s news is that Mayor Cory Booker has “secured” another $40 million for the schools. I’m wondering if the district will actually SEE this money that’s pledged.

@Jersey Mom: I think MOST school districts in New Jersey have overpaid administrators and not enough teachers. It’s a big problem.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

“I would like to believe that the money will be managed properly and find its way to the direct benefit of students in the city.”
From your mouth to God’s ears, my friend.
Here’s one view of the upcoming film:

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avatar 8 KNS Financial

I seriously doubt that there are many school systems that properly allocate and manage their funds. I actually don’t think that public school is a viable solution for proper education (at least not in it’s current form), but it’s clear that something needs to be done in Newark.

That is the city in which I was born, partially educated, lived, and worked and everyone knows that the school system faces serious trouble. A quick visit to Newark schools and then to the schools in the surrounding suburbs will highlight the huge difference in the education that is received by the respective students.

Money alone won’t solve this, but every district faces mismanagement, but yet some still thrive.

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avatar 9 Anonymous

I bet if you gave the parents the money they’d figure out a way to give their children a good education. Union hacks only know how to fatten their salaries/pensions. The children suffer.

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avatar 10 TakeitEZ

I work in Newark as a DYFS worker (child protection agency) and I believe that this money can help if it is used wisely, but more important than the educational funding is building resources within the community to educate, guide, and support those who live in these depressed communities. More funding needs to go into not only creating these resources but more importantly to KEEP these resources WELL-FUNDED so that they can be EFFECTIVE in the LONG RUN. These resources can in turn help parents and children in the community not only to better their lives in the immediate present, but to instill in them the desire and attitude that will expect the best from themselves both educationally and financially which will better them and their community in the near and far future.

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avatar 11 faithfueledbennetts

Hmmm, I do wonder out of all the places in the world this is the one chosen. But, regardless of why it was donated, I would like to think if it benefits at least one student, than it is worth it. Granted this much money should benefit thousands of students. But, sometimes one life’s change for the better is well worth it.

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avatar 12 Cruxman

I couldn’t agree with you more. But one has to wonder what will this public school do with all this money. They’ll just get taxed and have next to nothing left. HA.

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avatar 13 wylerassociate

hopefully cory booker and mark zuckerberg live up to their promise and the money is used to improve a failing school system.

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