Elsewhere online
September 09, 2015

Newark Debate Goes On as Schools Spend Down Zuckerberg Gift

The Wall Street Journal looks at continuing controversies in Newark, N.J., over how the city and its public-school system have used a ballyhooed $100-million donation from Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg. The clashing views reflect the larger national debate over school choice, performance pay for teachers, and the influence of philanthropic money in education reform, the newspaper writes.

The 2010 gift generated an additional $100 million in matching donations, of which about $30 million remains. Nearly half of the original donation funded a new contract for Newark teachers that instituted evaluations and merit pay, and about a quarter of the overall $200-million infusion supported charter schools.

Some say the gift has created conditions for progress, but critics contend the money was spent with relatively little community input and represents a lost opportunity to transform Newark's state-run, still-underperforming school system. The Prize, a newly published book about the donation and its aftermath, has focused renewed attention on the work of the Foundation for Newark’s Future, the nonprofit established to disburse the money.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy interview with Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize.