Newark Mayor Cory Booker's Twitter status reads, "'No man stands so straight as when he stoops to help a child.' Knights of Pythagorus." And whether this is how education funding donor and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg intended and wanted to be viewed, or whether he really did want to make an anonymous donation, it can't be denied that the money is the first step to a huge boost in the city's education system. At a press conference today in Newark (video below), Zuckerberg, Booker and Governor Chris Christie tried to explain how they'd take the next step.
Zuckerberg will donate the money through is Startup: Education foundation, and said, "The city has a good foundation already and there are structural reasons why the city is good for this, but really this is more an investment in them." Booker announced the city has begun collecting matching funds, and suggested all this hard work puts a third term for him squarely on the table. However, not everyone is excited about the funds. NJ.com blogger Paul Mulshine calculated the annual taxpayer cost will end up being $29,000 per kid in the district, and said, "I think this illustrates why many of us on the right have come to the conclusion that the idea of public education is obsolete. With all those political hacks and union heads fighting for the prize money, cost increases will always exceed performance gains."
After the announcement, Newark residents sounded off on what they want to see change in the city's schools. Suggestions included creating "after-school programs to keep kids out of trouble," "We need more classrooms, and I’d put cameras on each corner for security and give the kids a longer lunch," and "They should bring in some more computers. Students need to learn how to use them because computers are our future." One first grade teacher suggested starting small, and getting all the schools enough textbooks for every child. "I just finished making 15 photocopies of books," she said. "The schools need the basics that teachers use on a daily basis — everything adds up."