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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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College Speaking Fees Gone Wrong: Rutgers Paid Snooki More Than Toni Morrison

The school paid the Jersey Shore reality star $32,000 for a Q&A with students. Toni Morrison is only getting $30,000 to speak at commencement.

Is the Jersey Shore's Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi worth more than a Nobel Prize winner? The Rutgers University Programming Association certainly thinks so. They paid the reality star $32,000 for a Thursday night Q&A with 1,000 students. Meanwhile, Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winning author and professor Toni Morrison will receive only $30,000 for speaking at the school's commencement on May 15. (This is not, by the way, an April Fools' Day joke.)

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Rutgers Experiments with Gender-Neutral Dorms

The suicide of gay freshman Tyler Clementi spurs Rutgers to pilot gender-neutral dorms.


Can gender-neutral housing programs create a safer, more inclusive college experience for gay, lesbian, and transgender students? That's the hope of officials at New Jersey's largest university, Rutgers. Three dormitories are set to become gender neutral by Fall 2011, meaning that male students can choose a female roommate, and vice versa. What's spurring the decision? Last fall, eighteen-year-old Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi tragically committed suicide after his roommate secretly livestreamed his sexual encounter with another man onto the internet.

Gender-neutral housing is something gay students have requested—and been denied— for years. The school's Residence Life director, Joan Carbone, says that in the aftermath of Clementi's suicide, conversations with LBGTQ students led the school to take into consideration how tough it is to find an accepting roommate.

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