How Would You Spend $100 Million?

CascadeNewLogoBy Steve Buckstein

How would you spend $100 million? If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, founder of the most successful social network on the planet, you spend it trying to improve one of the most unsuccessful public school districts in America: the one in Newark, New Jersey.

In 2010 Zuckerberg donated $100 million to the Newark Public School System on condition that then-Mayor Corey Booker, a Democrat, and Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, directed how the money was spent. Booker was a school choice supporter, and Christie took on the powerful teachers unions.

Five years later, Zuckerberg’s money has apparently been spent on consultants and teacher compensation, with little to show in the way of better educational outcomes. A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed explained how this was just one more failed top-down reform attempt by private and non-profit donors working with government education systems.

Booker and Christie were unable to fundamentally change the top-down school system that put bureaucrats and unions, rather than parents, in control.

It’s amazing what lessons can be (re)learned when you spend $100 million dollars in ways guaranteed not to improve education. Hopefully, all of us will learn from this failure that you can’t reform the public school system just by giving it more money. Next time, give the money to the parents to spend on the schools and educational resources of their choice.

Steve Buckstein is Founder and Senior Policy Analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 10:00 | Posted in Education, Public Employee Unions, Unions | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jack Lord God

    Truly an idiotic move on Zukerbergs part. There is simply no argument that can be made that would substantiate that money is the problem with schools. We spend more than just about everyone on the planet. We get crap results by comparison. It’s as if Zukerberg came across a dying man in the desert and threw a hundred mill at him thinking that would solve the problem. History will not well remember those who fought against each and every reform in our school system, from vouchers to charter schools they have obstructed, largely successfully, any chance for our kids to get an education. To my mind they will go down in history right alongside segregationists. Ruining other peoples lives so as to get the votes of those their hideous policies appease.

    • I can’t help but repeat the last half of your comment. It should be etched on a granite wall dedicated to calling out those who made America’s education system so dysfunctional:

      “History will not well remember those who fought against each and every reform in our school system, from vouchers to charter schools they have obstructed, largely successfully, any chance for our kids to get an education. To my mind they will go down in history right alongside segregationists. Ruining other peoples lives so as to get the votes of those their hideous policies appease.”

  • David Clark

    WOW! What an idea – let the user of the service control the money.

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