Tomorrow, the day that a film about the founding of Facebook opens the New York Film Festival, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear on the Oprah Winfrey show to announce a donation of up to $100 million to the Newark, NJ school system. The Wall Street Journal noted, "Newark spends about $22,000 a year on each of its 40,000 pupils, but only about half of its students graduate. Of those who do, only one-fifth go on to four-year colleges. More than 85% of the Newark students at community colleges need remedial help in math and English."
The WSJ also characterizes Zuckerberg/Facebook's move as a "bold bid" and explains, "Mr. Zuckerberg is setting up a foundation with $100 million of Facebook's closely held stock to be used to improve education in America, with the primary goal of helping Newark. Mr. Zuckerberg has had a long-standing interest in education, particularly teachers' low salaries, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Over the last year, he had a series of meetings with people involved in education and developed a relationship with Newark Mayor Cory Booker." That Cory Booker—so good at social networking! Interestingly, Zuckerberg doesn't have a connection to Newark—he grew up in Ardsley, NY and graduated from Philip Exeter Academy before attending Harvard.
NJ Governor Chris Christie had recently told the Newark schools superintendent that his contract would not be renewed. According to the NY Times, Christie will now "cede some control of the state-run system" to Booker, by "choosing a new superintendent and redesigning the system," though Christie can take back control. Still, the Times says, "the arrangement tightens an already friendly relationship between the governor, a Republican, and the mayor, a Democrat who was once seen as a likely challenger for the State House in 2013. It also promises to be a rare happy moment in a state troubled by budget crises, scandals, political infighting and, most recently, the loss of a $400 million federal education grant because of a clerical error."
Zuckerberg, Christie and Booker will appeared on Oprah together.