Newark Mayor Cory Booker is already 40% done with raising the funds needed to match Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million grant to the city's public school system. He announced today at the "Education Nation" summit in Manhattan, “We have $60 million to go. When we get to $200 million, we will have a powerful tool in our toolbox to get things done."
Booker said that the funds would be "flexible," and wants input from the community on how to properly spend them. "The most important part is that this level of commitment from Mark must be matched by the community,” Booker said. “This is a challenge to everyone in Newark—no more inverted pyramid of school reform." Community members already suggested everything from implementing after school programs to buying more textbooks. According to the Wall Street Journal (paywall), about half of the city's 40,000 students don't graduate high school, and 85% of graduates at local community colleges need remedial help in math and English.
Governor Chris Christie took the press conference as an opportunity to take a shot at the teachers union, saying, "We're about yes, they're about no. We're about tomorrow, they're about yesterday. We're about the kids, they're about their paychecks." Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, didn't take too kindly to that generalization, and said it was "really disappointing at a time when we need to come together for our kids, Gov. Christie has arrived at a conclusion without ever having a conversation with me." New York City isn't being left out of the party; at the conference today, Bill and Melinda gates announced the city would receive $3 million over the next three years to boost college graduation.