Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, is expected to announce a gift of $100 million to Newark schools on the Oprah show this Friday, September 24th. I spotted this story on Huffington Post, which specifies that Zuckerberg intends to establish a foundation using Facebook stock, to benefit education in America, and specifically education in Newark.
The WSJ explains: “[u]nder terms of the understanding between Mr. Zuckerberg, the Republican Mr. Christie and the Democratic Mr. Booker, the mayor would become the governor’s representative to devise plans for the schools.” Hmm… The NYT even reports there has been speculation that Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of Education for Washington D.C. will go to New Jersey.
Having attended the most competitive law school in the country (Yale), Corey Booker automatically gets my respect for being brilliant. However, this increasing push for education governance by people who have not actually worked in (or even studied) education is disconcerting. The underlying insinuation seems to be that control should be centralized… I get that. But why aren’t we looking to education experts to execute that authority? Have we decided that there is not teacher, principal, or even Harvard GSE or Teacher’s College Ed.D. that can make a contribute of any value?? I think my puzzle is a piece short.
I also still haven’t figured out why so many big for-profits have made education the cause du jour. When I saw this story I automatically assumed Zuckerberg must be from Newark. He’s not. Apparently he has no connection to Newark whatsoever except that he and Booker met at a conference in July and have kept in touch about education. I bet I couldn’t meet anyone today who would be willing to give me $100 million in two months. Education seems an odd cause for huge companies to support, especially when the support comes with subtle or outward expressions of how the cause should be helped.
I will continue sleuthing.