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Reform Gone Wrong: Despite $100 Million From Facebook, Newark Schools Still Screwed Up

Infighting and a lack of transparency in decision making are hampering reform and losing the trust of the community.


Last September, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously went on the Oprah Winfrey Show to announce that he'd sent a $100 million friend request to the troubled Newark, New Jersey schools. Six months later, only $1 million of those funds has been spent and the community is bickering over how to best use the $99 million balance that's being held by the foundation that Zuckerberg started to administer the funds, Startup Education.

Controversy started right off the bat when Zuckerberg attached strings to the money, like demanding that Newark Mayor Cory Booker be given control of the city's schools. Due to abysmal academic performance and mismanagement, the 40,000 student-strong district has been under state control since 1995 and mayoral control is prohibited by New Jersey law. Governor Chris Christie went ahead and opted not to renew school superintendent Clifford Janey's contract—a new superintendent still hasn't been hired—and said Booker would play an "advisory" role to the schools.

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Adrian Fenty Crowned School Savior by Bill Maher

The outgoing D.C. mayor is positioning himself as an education champion. But not so fast.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDCSmoNFhww

This past week, I had the pleasure of being in the studio audience of the show Real Time with Bill Maher. One of the guests on the show was outgoing D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, who was taken down in the District's Democratic Primary by challenger and City Council Chairman Vincent Gray. Maher praised the mayor's sweeping education reforms, saying to Fenty that he "tried to do big things—reform for the people—and they kicked you out on your ass."

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Can Education Reform Survive Election Day?

What is at stake for education reform in this election? Read on.


Headed to the polls to vote? That means you'll be deciding who will implement—or possibly not implement—much-needed education reforms. As we've seen in Washington, D.C., with Mayor Adrian Fenty's lost bid for mayoral re-election, and the subsequent resignation of D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, who's in office makes a difference for schools.

The next Congress faces the charge of reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). However, whether that reauthorization will happen seamlessly given that candidates, like Kentucky's Rand Paul, want to completely shutter the federal Department of Education, remains to be seen.

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