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Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 Million School Push In Newark, Stalled

Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Christie and Cory Booker launched a 100-million-dollar campaign to fix the schools of Newark, New Jersey. The money’s gone. The schools aren’t fixed. What happened?

In this file photo released by Facebook, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, center, is joined by Cory A. Booker, left, the Mayor of Newark, N.J., and N.J. Governor Chris Christie, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 in Newark, N.J. at a news conference detailing a $100 million deal with New Jersey schools that Zuckerberg and Booker announced earlier in the week. (AP)

In this file photo released by Facebook, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, center, is joined by Cory A. Booker, left, the Mayor of Newark, N.J., and N.J. Governor Chris Christie, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 in Newark, N.J. at a news conference detailing a $100 million deal with New Jersey schools that Zuckerberg and Booker announced earlier in the week. (AP)

 

It was right there on Oprah.  All the promise in the world and a pot of gold for the schools of Newark, New Jersey.  September, 2010.  There was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.  Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.  Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker.  Saying on Oprah they were going to fix Newark’s failing schools.  Make a model for the nation.  And Zuckerberg was throwing in $100 million to make it happen.  Now the money’s gone and the schools aren’t fixed.  What happened?  This hour On Point:  fixing failing schools, and how Mark Zuckerberg got schooled in Newark, New Jersey.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ted Sherman, staff writer at the Star-Ledger. Author of “The Jersey String: Chris Christie and the Most Brazen Case of Jersey-Style Corruption — Ever.” (@TedShermanSL)

Dale Russakoff, freelance reporter. Author of “Schooled,” featured in this week’s issue of the New Yorker. (@dalerussakoff)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New Yorker: Schooled — “Booker had been a champion of vouchers and charter schools for Newark since he was elected to the city council, in 1998, and now he wanted to overhaul the school district. He would need Christie’s help. The Newark schools had been run by the state since 1995, when a judge ended local control, citing corruption and neglect.”

Star-Ledger: Ras Baraka declares victory in Newark mayoral election – “Ras Baraka, a councilman and fiery community activist who campaigned on the vow to ‘take back Newark’ from outsiders, was elected mayor of New Jersey’s largest city in decisive fashion Tuesday night, declaring victory before the votes were even fully counted.”

Washington Post: Are school closings the ‘new Jim Crow’? Activists file civil rights complaints – “In Newark, 13 public schools have closed since 2009. In Chicago, 111 schools have closed since 2001. In New Orleans, all the traditional public schools except five have shut down since 2003. The District of Columbia has closed 39 traditional public schools since 2008. Those shuttered schools have been replaced by public charter schools, which are funded by taxpayers but are privately operated.Teachers in charter schools typically are not unionized.”

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  • John Barba

    throw more money at the problem, if that doesn’t work repeat!

  • Aaron Read

    I’d like to know what, if anything, Zuckerberg learned from this titanic failure. If the New Yorker article is to be taken at face value, he made an incredibly stupid (or at least naive) $100 million dollar bet on personalities instead of systems. That’s like being sold a Yugo by a used car huckster telling you it’s a collectors item.

  • rich4321

    Oh yea, money is the panacea for all social ills.

  • Fiscally_Responsible

    What happened is that the same liberal agenda of overpaid and underworked teachers and administrators, lazy and undisciplined students, focus on instruction that teaches we are all above average and coddling students rather than rigorous instruction, lack of discipline, and lazy parents whose main goal in life is where they can get their next entitlement check was not changed. Money was simply thrown at the problem, as is the typical liberal pro-big government approach to problem solving.

    • nj_v2

      Glad to see someone has it all figured out. It was enlightening to discover that “lazy students” are part of the “liberal agenda.” I guess that what relaxing marijuana laws are about. Dope keeps ‘em lazy. Lazy parents on welfare with lazy kids on pot. It all makes sense now.

      That’s why i like the forum here, one can learn something new every day.

      I do agree, too, that we need some more “corporate” punishment.

    • Human2013

      “…overpaid teachers…lazy parents whose main goal is to get their next entitlement check.”

      The lowering standards in primary school were preceded by the lowering standards in higher education and the cycle continues. College presidents spend more time campaigning like politicians begging to increase their endowments instead of focusing on the curriculum and the academic growth of their students. Colleges are disproportiantly using part-time, adjunct professors that are overwhelmed and underpaid.

      As for entitlement checks, you should actually look at the average amount of an “entitlement check.” Welfare has been gutted, continues to be gutted and no one is waiting on a $150 check that can’t even by diapers and toiletries.

      You should turn your attention to the corporate slave holders that work these parents into exhaustion, pay them nothing and expect them to go home and spend hours supplementing their kids education — Get real.

      http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/05/09/parents-the-adjunct-system-wasting-your-kids-tuition/aGXZbXkTOVPpf3166IPktI/story.html

      “Nearly 15,000 contingent and adjunct faculty teach in greater Boston. Many work at multiple schools, trying to make enough to support themselves and their families on low pay with no benefits. All have advanced degrees, and many live at or below the poverty level”

    • Ray in VT

      Maybe they could just teach the kids the Bible and fix everything.

    • jefe68

      A right wing religious screed in all it’s sanctimonious glory.

    • Charles

      If only we had more voucher programs. I would have preferred to learn about moral perversion and sexual promiscuity alongside people who looked more like me.

    • TFRX

      Hahahahaha.

      Please talk about abortion. It appears that that is your long suit (by what amounts to default.)

    • Geenius_at_Wrok

      BEAT THE CHILDREN UNTIL THEIR TEST SCORES GO UP

  • Michiganjf

    So, 100 or more schools get what… less than a million each?

    That might fix the plumbing in some of those decrepit old buildings.
    I work in a 20 year old building which just had a six million dollar re-fit.
    We’re hard pressed to tell the difference, now that the work is complete.
    I’m guessing pretty near ALL of the schools in Newark are far older than 20 years.

    How about America starts making a REAL commitment to education, and not shuffle off responsibility onto a thirty year old’s gimmicky experiment ( a 30 yr. old with no experience in the field?)

    Maybe America would have done better, if Republicans hadn’t been robbing public schools of funding for the last 30 years and demonizing the profession of teaching right across the board.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Love it.

  • Cindy Orrell

    I hope the discussion about fixing schools (actually–iimproving students’ success in school and beyond) considers the impact of poverty and class. Family income influences so many factors that impact the ability to learn. It’s hard to learn, even with the best teachers and facilities, when you’re hungry and afraid. But poor kids often live in poor neighborhoods with high levels of crime, anxiety, and despair. Their grocery stores, if there are any nearby, may not have fresh food and there may not be enough money for the family to buy it. These kids learn not to expect much, especially for their own futures. Sure, there are crumbling schools with inept teachers and corrupt administration, but that’s not the whole story. Maybe not the most important one. The elephant in the room is poverty.

    • myblusky

      I was talking to a teacher who had worked in the Chicago public school system and then left to go work in a wealthy suburb. He said that his job was already done for him in the suburb because kids were educated from birth by their parents. They also had high expectations placed on them to go to college and succeed in life and work.

      Its seems what really matters is being raised by educated parents that care about a kid’s future, having a safe/stable place to live and access to good nutrition and healthcare, having parents that places expectations on the child for success, and living in a place where one has the ability to make connections to other people who will help them along in their career.

      • berkeleygirl

        Exactly! In my corner of Chicago, families are choosing to stay, investing in their neighborhood public elementaries rather than flee to the suburbs, and results are skyrocketing.

        The saddest thing of all? Teachers are being held 100% responsible for students’ development. If test scores aren’t high enough, the teacher and their school are called a failure and out of a job/closed. The students are sent to a publicly-funded/privately-run charter, with little to no accountability, where the teacher is also working – at lower pay, but is suddenly a great teacher, since they’re at a charter.

        • StilllHere

          There is significantly more accountability at charter schools from students, parents, teachers and administrators.

          • Don_B1

            Well, some might say that the real “accountability” is being delivered now with the latest study report showing the huge “seamy side” of charter schools, and it does not favor your ideology.

          • Geenius_at_Wrok

            It’s only accountability if the low-scoring charter schools’ charters are revoked.

    • hennorama

      Cindy Orrell — but, according to many, parents and others in the district should just get more involved, and everything will be fixed.

      It’s just that magically simple, as everyone knows.

      (tongue firmly in cheek as to the above)

      Again, according to many, It’s very much like unemployment and poverty. All one needs do is think about education, and learn the value of education, and >poof!<, problem solved!:

      House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Wednesday.

      “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work,” the Wisconsin Republican said on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” radio show. “There is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

      Source:
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/12/paul-ryan-inner-cities_n_4949165.html

      • Jill122

        But, but but it’s SUCH a good soundbyte. So easily digested. “Blame the victim” is THE most potent defense against thinking about wholistic solutions.

        If we’re going to fix anything, we have to fix poverty. People change with a little money in the bank. They just do.

        Keeping people begging for the next resource is a superb way of controlling almost every outcome including democracy itself.

        Not much of a soundbyte there. Too much to think about. Besides why should I take care of others? It’s my money, my gun, my business, my roads and bridges, all this stuff is mine. Who sez I have to share.

        • hennorama

          Jill122 — thank you for your response.

          The selfishness is rather pointed and overwhelming. The attitude is that not only is it mine, it’s definitely not yours, because you don’t deserve it. (because you don’t work hard enough, or care enough, or take advantage of all the opportunity right there in front of you, or you’re in a social safety “hammock,” etc., etc.)

          Because: freedom, or something.

        • HonestDebate1

          There was once a concerned mother in Alaska. She got involved in her local PTA. Then from there got on the city council and then went on to become mayor. She got appointed to head an ethics commission for her State and ended up calling out corruption in her own party. She then showed the fortitude to challenge the entrenched establishment machine and win as Governor. It’s such a great story and it all started with a little concern.

          • TFRX

            You really gotta stop fluffing that failure of a grifter of a half-term elected official of a Palin. People might think you’re not as smart as merely long-winded and surfactantly polite.

          • Don_B1

            You stopped the story before getting to the ethical infractions that this person committed while governor.

            I can’t seem to imagine why that could have happened.

          • HonestDebate1

            The frivolous lawsuits, all without merit, became a colossal waste of the tax payer’s money. Typically women are not attacked this viciously and while she handled it with her usual grace, she was forced to resign. It was the noble option.

            Meanwhile a freshman Senator with zero executive experience resigns 2 years into a 6 year term.

  • Michiganjf

    Now that the profession has been demonized and already low compensation reduced even further, few people worth their salt are willing to engage a teaching career anymore… that’s a recent development to which I largely ascribe Republican responsibility over the last few decades.

    Republicans have moved the burden ever more onto State legislatures, and state legislatures have pushed the responsibility more and more onto county and city government.
    Now, the new paradigm means ever higher property taxes which do little to keep up with school districts’ growing populations and aging schools.

    We had a public school system which worked well enough for those who put in a modicum of effort… the last thirty years have seen that workable system dismantled piece by piece, with money and resources shifted to charter schools (Republicans), standardized testing (initially Republicans), administrative pay over teacher pay, etc…

    NOPE, teachers and impotent unions aren’t the problem, they’re scapegoats… and just look at the results of the last few public union battles if you’re going to argue about whether or not unions are now “impotent.”

    • keltcrusader

      Amen!

  • Shag_Wevera

    Privatizing schools makes me sad. Make schools public with national standards and sufficient funding. It put us at the very top of the world in the 20th century, why do we believe it can’t work anymore?

    • Shag_Wevera

      Oh yeah, the profit motive sees an opportunity… So sad.

    • berkeleygirl

      Because too many don’t want to pay for it…

  • Shag_Wevera

    We need unions. Learn your history, imbecile.

    • Michiganjf

      But don’t you see???

      Lower pay and benefits over the years translates into “union power out of control!!!”

      … only in the mind of a Republican.

    • HonestDebate1

      Private sector unions are fine if that’s your thing. Public sector unions are an abomination.

      • Shag_Wevera

        Why, please.

      • JS

        Could you explain why private unions are fine but public ones are an “abomination”. And please, examples of bad public unions is not an explanation.

        • Jill122

          They just ARE. That’s why! Because.

          • HonestDebate1

            Private sector unions are fine. Personally I’d rather let my skills and work-ethic determine my wage and not some third party. I’d rather not be a number but some people like that.

          • TFRX

            And some people like getting fired because someone doesn’t like the cut of their jib. Some people like being a weakass peon who depend on “the boss loves me”. Cos that never turns to shat.

          • HonestDebate1

            None of that matters if you make yourself indispensable.

          • Don_B1

            In most lines of work that is a lot harder to do than it appears it is for you in your endeavors.

          • HonestDebate1

            Nothing is easy… except complaining.

          • Jill122

            Then you should move back to the 1850s. With today’s corporate giants, they don’t even know who you are. If you’re not in a “gang”, (cohort of your peers) you’re nobody. No one will pay attention to you. You don’t like the way a certain corporation acts toward its customers? Stop buying their products. They will weep and seek you out to find out what they can do to make your life better. Let me know how they make it up to you. Same with your wages and benefits.

            A one man band? Maybe you’re an entertainer — certainly not a thinker.

          • HonestDebate1

            I do fine,

        • hennorama

          JS — best of luck with that line of reasoned commentary.

        • HonestDebate1

          Simple, because grievances in the public sector pit the government against her people. FDR explained it well:

          All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

          Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.

          http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15445

          • Don_B1

            This is not so much an argument against unions for government workers as an argument that public unions should not be allowed to strike, which is usually the standard for most public employees.

            But public employees should have the right to make their grievances known without fear of retribution.

            And President Roosevelt here demonstrated his ability to write what was necessary to avoid giving those opposed to any unions a “talking point” on how the proposed law would be detrimental to getting work done by “those lazy overpaid government employees.”

          • hennorama

            Don_B1 — indeed.

            If one takes the 2nd graf, and substitutes “Congress” for “orgamization of Government employees” and “employees in the Federal service,” one gets a critique of the recent Federal shutdown.

          • HonestDebate1

            … or collectively bargain.

          • nj_v2

            Well that’s downright hilarious! DisHonestMisDebatorGreggg citing FDR.

          • HonestDebate1

            Why so?

  • creaker

    If you do not have a solution that can be rigidly defined and successfully replicated, you don’t have a solution – you’re just guessing. The problem is they don’t know what makes a “successful” school successful. And they don’t know how to “fix” schools.

    • Shag_Wevera

      Love it.

    • TFRX

      I thought we had the MO: Give the privatizers more money than would be spent on a regular PS, let them cherry pick the students, and when it all goes paws up, point to one somewhere that sorta works and say “See, do it everywhere.”

  • Jeff

    We should require computer programming in each and every high school, at least the students might have a chance at achieving what Zuckerberg did.

    • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      Programming is only a tiny, tiny part of what made Zuckerberg as successful as he is. I’m willing to bet he hasn’t written a line of code in 8+ years. Software engineering is a good line of work, no doubt, but let’s not fool people into believing they will be billionaires if they learn how to hack Ruby.

    • berkeleygirl

      The same argument applies to music education, which applies many principles akin to advanced math. A top math teacher at a Chicago math/science magnet school is a semi-retired rock star. A friend, a longtime HR executive with tech companies, said they love to hire musicians as they are excellent programmers.

      • Jeff

        The odd thing is that I know lots of technical people who also are into music (play instruments or are in bands)…I know very few liberal arts/music majors who do coding or science in their spare time. Basically, if you get into a STEM field you can always do music as a hobby…if you devote yourself to the arts there is almost no chance that you will bother to learn STEM subjects.

        • OrangeGina

          then you don’t know enough technical people OR musicians, I’d say.

          Music is a hobby for lots of my fellow musicians who are teachers, health care specialists, sales managers, etc.. I have a friend who has a Master’s degree in education, is an artist, a musician AND an electrical whiz. So I disagree.

  • X Y & Z

    The NJ state employee pension fund is $56 billion dollars in debt.

    How is NJ going to make up that massive shortfall? Tax the top income earners in the state even more? That may not even be an option much longer, many of New Jersey’s top income earners are fleeing the state.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

    Throwing money at a problem is not magically going to solve it: money is merely a tool used to fulfill well-defined objectives. I’m guessing the politicians involved don’t actually understand what is wrong with their schools, which means they don’t know how to fix them, which means all that money was just thrown down the drain.

    Hopefully Zuckerberg learns from this experience not to trust the promises of politicians.

  • TFRX

    Another predictable, bad, voucher charter school program happened.

    (But I repeat myself.)

  • 65noname

    perhaps now corporate radio will stop sentimentalizing billionaires such as gates and zuckerberg who attempt to take over the poltical process and determine the agenda of poor cities such as newark by their control of huge amounts of cash. and perhaps it will get off its support for charter schools whose purpose is to take control of schools from residents and destroy teacher’s organizations.
    and good ridance to booker who was nothing but their paid-for politican.

  • rich4321

    What can one expect by throwing a nice big piece of juicy steak to a wolf pack?

  • TFRX

    How much of that $100M went to the OfficeBarn so teachers didn’t have to buy supplies with their own money?

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Ego is always a bad first step when something important is required. Witness the current president’s misadventures.

  • JS

    Exactly how much is $100,000,000 compared to the Newark Annual school budget?

    • James

      If it’s anything like the Buffalo school district it is about 1/8 of their annual budget.

  • TFRX

    “School reform movement” as used by Rusakoff, is a misnomer. Time to strike it from the stylebook.

  • creaker

    What’s really sad here is it sounds like (again) everyone is throwing up their hands and shaking their heads instead of seeing where (and if they even know where) the money went. Big part of the problem is they never seem to get a handle of what doesn’t work, either, and this would have been a golden opportunity to figure out what didn’t work.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Kids in the ’50s and early ’60s didn’t go on field trips to England, Disneyland, Wally World, and Washington, D.C. Public school systems had something else in mind back then: basic education.

    • JS

      I doubt the school kids in Newark were going on field trips to Disney World.

      • mrisinger

        I doubt they went to Wally World either since that was a fictional park in the Chevy Chase movie.

        • JS

          Plus Wally World is closed, the Moose out front should have told you that.

    • nj_v2

      We went to Old Sturbridge Village and the UN. So there!

    • Rick Evans

      I was in school in the 1950s and went on field trips to museums and zoos. How is a trip to DC with its FREE admission Smithsonian museums a problem or equivalent to Disneyland?

  • malkneil

    If we throw enough money at something we can accomplish anything…look at the Manhattan Project.

    • James

      I’m calling Poe’s law on this one, not sure if I’m right though.

    • Rick Evans

      We threw the best brains at the relatively straightforward Manhattan project physics problem.

      BTW we also have thrown tons of money at the wars on drugs and cancer with scant or no results.

    • mrisinger

      I wish it were that simple. The Manhattan Project was purely an engineering challenge. The theories had been proven, and calculated, we just needed enough resources to make it happen. Nobody knows how to fix schools because we can’t agree what’s wrong, or even if the problems are really at the school level, or more a byproduct of society. Unfortunately I think throwing money at a problem that isn’t even defined yet, in an industry with lots of corruption, will just result in losing money.

      • Don_B1

        I agree with everything except the “lots of corruption.”

        That implies there is more corruption in school administrations than in most other endeavors, and I don’t think that is true.

  • StilllHere

    $100 million isn’t much when you’re spending billions annually and getting terrible results, especially when you have to work against backward and entrenched union interests and corrupt local politicians.

    • nj_v2

      Unions! Booga booga!

      • StilllHere

        ^ Idiot-troll time!

    • Don_B1

      A much bigger obstacle is the home life of so many of the students, and that is likely much more intractable.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    The reason that schools are hard to “turn around” is that bad results of our current schools are a *symptom* of a broken society.

    Poverty is driving the school bus.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      And the driver is asleep at the wheel. Hoober Doober

      • Jill122

        If that were true we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. There are some drivers (of the 635 + 1) who make a difference and there are others (the majority in the house) who are anxious to cut costs ALMOST everywhere. It’s not because they are mean, or even mean spirited. It’s because they are stupid hoober gooper.

  • Coastghost

    “On Point” editorial judgment and my opinion coincide here: corruption in public schools is news and newsworthy. The pervasiveness of corruption in public schools and in municipal and state oversight of public education extends far beyond this one conspicuous case in Newark and far beyond the bounds of New Jersey.
    Abolish public education, which is the single most pernicious assault upon the poor ever perpetrated in terms of public policy apart from strictly economic policies and regulations.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Throw the baby out with the bath water!

    • TFRX

      Please stop pretending you’re “helping” the working class.

      For many folks the takeaway is “no more charter and voucher schools; they’ve had their fun and they don’t work”.

      • Coastghost

        Feel free to rely on fashionable and conspicuous philanthropy, in which case.

        • Don_B1

          Public education worked fairly well until the social problems of the urban areas became dominant in the fifties into the sixties.

          Stop blaming an institution that does not have full control of its subjects in creating the desired output.

    • nj_v2

      [[ Abolish public education, which is the single most pernicious assault upon the poor ever perpetrated in terms of public policy apart from strictly economic policies and regulations. ]]

      Privatization. The regressive right’s one-stop, wrong cure for any troubled institution.

      • Coastghost

        Public education serves only c. 60% of the student population due to permitted dropout rates, incompletion rates, expulsion rates.
        During my c. four years in public school classrooms, a grade of 60 always signified failure.

      • StilllHere

        Privatization! Booga Booga!

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    All of the ills of American society will be permanently fixed when we open the doors to immigration.

    “The Titanic is taking on water: if only we had more passengers in steerage!”
    –Barack H. Obama, Capt., Ship of State

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      I’ve hit my limit of the number of your posts I am going to read today.

      • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

        Fine. Howdy Doody is on the Retro channel. Hoober Doober

      • JS

        Be careful, I tried minimizing all his posts once. It actually imbedded him deeper into my psyche, and I walked around half the day saying, “Hoober Doober”

    • mrisinger

      Nobody has ever claimed that fixing immigration will fix any other issues. It needs to be fixed because it’s broken. This is not a left wing viewpoint, listen to your own party, they want to fix immigration too.

  • Guest

    From the transcript for Monday’s show, On Point with Tom Ashbrook. Did anyone invest the limit? Hoober Doober

  • skelly74

    Children will get a good education if they are motivated. Great schools have bad students and good students.

    Let’s start blaming the children for a change…this in itself would shake up their education.

    • dust truck

      “blaming the children…” Wow… are you for real? It’s not like children are capable of being agents of their own destiny they just…

      CHILDREN.

      • skelly74

        Please, children in China are manufacturing sneakers…the same sneakers you probably wore today for your run.

        Children in Africa are taking up arms and fighting in civil wars.

        American children can put down their smartphones and be responsible for opening a book and educating themselves.

        If they won’t study, we will put them in 6×8 “single study pods” eight hours a day with all the books they need.

        • dust truck

          Like any of those children had a choice in the matter? I think you’re confusing slavery with free will.

          • skelly74

            No, the children have the responsibility to exercise their free will now. If they choose not to study, and we as a society do not put the responsibility and blame on them, they ultimately will blame the system for their failures…and this will reverberate throughout all aspects of their life.

            But today we have the “good for you Tucker” culture.

            In essence, Children who do not educate themselves will forever be dependant on the system…and in effect become a slave to the system that supports and dictates their every move.

            Your move Tucker.

          • dust truck

            And who will care for them while they are educating themselves? Who teaches them the importance of education? You still seem to think that children have the intelligence and motivations of adults from the moment they emerge from the womb.

            I seriously doubt a 6-year-old could hold down a job and go to school and everything else you seem to think they’re capable of. But hey, it’s a free comment board– you can believe whatever you want.

          • skelly74

            Caring for a child and educating a child are one in the same, correct? Both provide guidance.

            Feeding an infant with a spoon stops as soon as the child recognizes they can do it themselves if motivated and able.

            Dressing a child stops as soon as the child discovers they can dress themselves if motivated and able.

            The basics of education can be learned if the child is motivated, and then the child will apply this knowledge, through work (schoolwork / homework) as assigned by the proctor, if motivated and able.

            Isn’t school lessons and homework a form of work? If the child does not apply himself at the assigned work, will he not indeed fail?

            Is the education system really only a glorified babysitter program if the child is not motivated to do the work?

            Will money actually buy the child the motivation to apply himself?

            And if children don’t have motivations then they certainly have aptitudes.

            Do you believe aptitudes are learned through education?

      • skelly74

        But everyone is born with aptitudes. Isn’t that destiny? Will education teach aptitudes?

    • OnPointComments

      The primary problem is the parents.

      • skelly74

        Ok, so it’s not the education system, it is the parent of the child who ultimately effects the quality of their Childs education? Ok. The child gets the pass again.

        • mrisinger

          I’m curious at what age you figure ‘kids’ simply become responsible for their own composition, and are no longer seen as a product of the external forces in their lives. 10? 5? 6 months?

          • skelly74

            When do children (in an educational setting- remember the topic) start to be accountable for assignments and independent work? High school? Second, third grade? Seven years old? Fifteen? Maybe College?

            Who is responsible for independent study? Swaddling parents who do it for them so they can post that bumper sticker on their Camry? Teachers and school districts? Zuckermann?

        • OnPointComments

          30 students in a class, 24 pass with varying degrees of success, 6 fail. What’s the variable that accounts for the difference? 1, possibly 2, who fail may not have the ability to pass, but we’ve got 3 times that many. They all sit in the same class, in the same room, with the same teacher, listening to the same lessons, yet 6 fail. The school provides them with breakfast and lunch, so it’s probably not nutrition. What’s left? It’s not poverty; plenty of poor students, with parents who care about education, excel at school. The variable is the parents and the home those students return to at the end of the day. The parents are responsible for their children; some of those parents fail at this important job.

          • skelly74

            Well, it’s hard to argue against the parental role in education but here goes:

            The child still needs to do the work, regardless of mom and dad locking them in their room with nothing but textbooks.

            If mom and dad are asking junior what he learned today in school and junior has a new story every day, then the parents can be sure Junior is educating himself.

            Lead the horse to the water…the rest is up to the horse.

    • mrisinger

      Here’s a parent with anger issues right here. I guarantee it.

      • skelly74

        How would anger and conflict or even joy and cooperation effect a Childs education.

        Isn’t adversity a hallmark of growth and understanding?

        Is swaddling a child to adulthood beneficial to helping them succeed on their own?

        • mrisinger

          “Isn’t adversity a hallmark of growth and understanding?”

          If it were that simple, then ghettos would be pumping out brilliance left and right. But they don’t, they pump out crime left and right. Yes, there is a certain link between overcoming adversity and growing mature, but it’s a delicate, abstract process that can’t simply be implemented by imposing adversity on kids or just neglecting to give them support.

          • skelly74

            Poverty begets poverty and money begets money. Just because the suburbs have the cash to hire the Ivy league resume and build the Taj Mahal school house does not mean those kids are any brighter than the ghetto children. You are mistaking money, economics, and social stata with intelligence.

            I have found more common sense and brilliantly witted products of “ghettos” more often than our “cultured elite” in the suburbs, who regardless of education and aptitude, will be in a better economic and support structure than our ghetto children solely because they have the cash and the secret handshake.

          • mrisinger

            Whoa, wait. I *completely* agree that kids from the ghetto can be just as bright or brighter than affluent kids. So why am I not working with anyone from the ghetto in the software company that I work for? Is it because we aren’t blaming these kids from the ghetto enough, for their hardships? That’s what you’re saying! I’m saying we need to make finding a way to educate underprivileged kids a priority, and simply blaming them doesn’t help them. No?

          • skelly74

            Have you actually surveyed every employee at your company to know that none of them came from “ghetto” communities? Can you know someone grew up in a “ghetto” community by looks alone?

            The bottom line of my argument is that regardless of the opportunity, the individual child still needs to be motivated to do the work. It is that simple. The best infrastructure and mentors will help little to the unmotivated students.

            You can at least see some student responsibility in the education process, no?

            If you can agree that the student needs to bear some responsibility, I can rest my sarcastic view that they need to bear all responsibility and agree that opportunity would help guide the student to a better education.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The Newark Experiment: if you make a big noise you can be swept into the U.S. Senate. Regardless of the other messes you made as mayor.

  • DeJay79

    Money, Policies, Teachers, Competition, None of these things are the cause of the problems with failing school systems but they are the easy things to point a finger at.

    “not enough money. To much money. Better teachers, underpaid teachers, overpaid teachers. the school need more over sight, no less over sight ….”

    These are just the symptoms of the true cause, Value!

    Parents don’t value their children’s education, Students don’t value their own education enough, Teachers fail to value the education of students enough, Administrators and politicians real don’t value education (beyond a pay check or a vote). Citizens do not value the education of the rest of our society.

    Because to have a successful education system you need all of these parts working together the motivation of all parts is brought down if only one part undervalues the end goal of a well educated populace.

    I have no idea how to get everyone from the federal government on down to the parents and the children themselves to change, But that is the only way to revers the direction that our public education system is heading.

  • Human2013

    I’m confused; so what happens to the kids that don’t get into charter schools?

    • X Y & Z

      They get to attend the failing public schools that Barack Obama won’t even send his own kids to.

      • Don_B1

        Cheap snark!

        There was a lot more at issue than just selecting the best school. The school that all presidents’ children have attended for decades has facilities for protection, etc. that would have been a money drag on the public school that any high officeholder’s child attended.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    I’m duplicating the Newark Experiment. I, too, want a free ride to the U.S. Senate.
    –Rahm Israel Emanuel, Chicago Political Boss

  • Joseph F. Whelan

    Tom. Please ask your guest from the NEW Yorker to reduce her use of the expression “y’know.” As a professional writer, she must have learned in her journalism or communication classes that its overuse can be distracting from the message, don’t you know ? Listeners start to tune out when they hear it too often. I taught college-level technical communication for 21 years and know of what I speak, y’know.

    • DeJay79

      not that you mention it “y’know” is all i can hear

  • X Y & Z

    Who advised the Newark public schools on how they should best spend the $100 million, The US Postal Service?

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Bad food is another important issue!

  • Coastghost

    Put the $100 million Zuckerberg endowment in perspective to the current operating deficit of Chicago Public Schools: last I heard, CPS was running its affairs with an operating deficit of over $600 million if not over $700 million. (In 1990 the CPS operating deficit was a measly $200 million.)

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    “Hey, kid. Come here. Here’s your bus pass; food coupon; school voucher; and 20 bucks walking around money. Good luck. Write if you graduate. Oh, and write if you get work. Now, off you go.”
    –Half of America when asked what to do about education

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    The American Experiment: The perpetual fascination with rich people.

  • OrangeGina

    School Leadership: the new oxymoron.

  • nj_v2

    Schools are just one part of the commons suffering from lack of resources and attention. Money alone won’t solve the problems, but money well spent on effective programs, not those imposed by bureaucracy or dictated by politics, will go a long way.

    Since the inception of Reagonomics, a skewed tax and monetary system that rewards and enriches the wealthy and powerful and stunting or punishing the middle class, all aspects of the commons—roads, utilities, other infrastructure, local aid funds, etc., etc.—have stagnated or regressed. Municipalities and states can barely maintain essential services.

    Add to this the other corporation-enhancing policies (international “free-trade” agreements, pubic subsidies, etc.), the creation of ever-larger and wasteful national agencies (“Homeland Security”) with billions disappearing down multiple rat holes for the dubious benefit of protecting us from “terrorism” (which our foreign policy helps create) , along with no-limit “national defense”/military spending to keep foreign resources safe for multi-national, corporate exploitation…

    …The rest of use, schools, included, get to live off the scraps and crubs that fall to the ground for us to lick and scrape.

    Hopefully, sometime soon, enough people will begin to put all the pieces together to recreate ad rebuild a society that works for people and not entrenched, powerful interests.

    • dweebus

      Sadly, there will be no political uprising, even if people “put it together”. The Dems. are now merely “corporate light”. After all Cory “Charter” Booker was a Dem. And if they take to the streets: a militarized police force will respond with tear gas, batons, and pepper spray, as Occupy found out.

      • Human2013

        I’ve thought of this myself. The people will rebel, it’s only a matter of time. The question is: What happens when the country unleashes the most powerful, behemoth military in the history of the world on their citizens.

        • John_Hamilton

          We’ll find out soon enough.

        • Don_B1

          It depends on whether the revolt is expressed at the ballot box, and demonstrations to change campaign finance laws (with a Constitutional Amendment — see Lawrence Lessig) or by armed militias in the streets.

          The latter will lead to total disaster, the former could straighten up the ship of state.

      • StilllHere

        Occupy was too occupied with getting high and raping each other to accomplish anything.

        • Don_B1

          Actually, NO!

          The problem that OCCUPY had was it insistence to not enter political action, just trying to educate people about the problems.

          There actually was some success on the education front, but with no path to actually change things politically, the movement died or faded away.

    • Human2013

      Well said. With all the foresight that I can muster, I only see doom at the end of this road. We have College basketball players that read at a 3rd grade level enriching their schools with no compensation in sight. We have a minimum wage that doesn’t even sustain human life — not enough for food, walter and shelter. We have a Republican party set to win the Senate — Oh my. We have a huge housing crisis looming that will send most of us into tents once the Republicans gut housing subsidies. We have college and Universities that are run like Corporations sitting on billions, maybe trillions, while raising their tuition. We have judges that throw juveniles into prison for spray painting and then take kick backs from the new House of Corrections, Inc.

      We are in deep, deep trouble all in the name of unchecked capitalism.

      • The poster formerly known as t

        It seems to me that a lot of civilizations went through similar problems and then collapsed. The problem isn’t capitalism, it’s civilization. Many of these problems are due to human overpopulation. Human overpopulation is a symptom of civilization.

    • StilllHere

      Reganomics! Booga Booga!

      • nj_v2

        Idiot-troll time

  • dweebus

    My Dad was a middle school teacher for 30 years in an urban school. Mom still gets letters and phone calls from students who remember him fondly. One teacher CAN make a difference.

    Having said that, Dad once said to me: “It goes back to the sixties. You had a bunch of kids born into unwed families. Those kids have had kids, who have had kids, who have had kids. We are four generations into this thing, with no end in sight.”

    You cannot ignore the social environment in which these schools exist. The breakdown of the family (economically and socially) has had devastating consequences for children.

    And with most school systems dependent on a property tax based funding system, you must anticipate inequality in the system. The urban school gets little resources while the fancy suburban schools have personal student Ipads, trips to the museums, and work-study programs with high-tech corporations.

    Riding through it all is a class and race discussion we don’t wanna have. The suburbanite says “don’t take MY money to subsidize those inner city ne’er-do-wells. They just need to work harder!” The poor families, while critical of dictates from on high, lack any political power to level the playing field. After all, being your neighbors keeper is a dirty “socialist” concept.

    One final note, Russian schools, accomplish in eight years, what we mostly fail to do in twelve. That is something to think about.

    • The poster formerly known as t

      “Russian schools, accomplish in eight years, what we mostly fail to do in twelve. That is something to think about.” That applies to every North European,Asian and developing country.That doesn’t mean that there are enough respectable. living-wage paying jobs for all the students in those countries. Those students focus because their societies don’t incompletely reject the intellectual content of education and because they can’t afford all the consumer crap that Americans splurge on, that Americans go to”college” to get “the skills to pay the bills” to splurge on. For example, in Europe, crappy American goods are expensive, cars, roads, and buildings are smaller and people are more modest. The rest of the world doesn’t have a huge military to direct resources towards their country, so they tend to have less distractions.

      “he urban school gets little resources while the fancy suburban schools have personal student Ipads, trips to the museums, and work-study programs with high-tech corporations.” Because their parents earn more money. Poor people can’t afford to buy trendy tech products, don’t value the stuff in museums because museums typically contain things only the wealthy value, and poor people don’t contacts in high-tech corporations to help set up work-study programs because their parents are disconnected from high-tech corporations. Their parents aren’t involved in high-tech. In this country, the education one receives is largely what one is willing to pay for. Other than that, if one has to be exceptionally talented to get rich people to pay for one’s education.

    • MrBigStuff

      I’ve taught high school for several years now and I can say with firm confidence that everything you posted is entirely accurate. The elephant in the room in ALL of these conversations is the issue of socio-economic status and race. A considerable portion of the problems we have in education equality and school reform are related to the breakdown of African American families in our urban centers. However, no one wants to speak of it lest you be labelled a racist. We need to establish a framework for these disenfranchised black youths, many of whom are desperate and feel that no one is supporting them either at school or at home.

  • John_Hamilton

    You could have gone a step deeper into the notion of celebrity-driven reform. What it means is that celebrities get involved in reform efforts to focus attention on themselves. It of course is bound to fail. Add in politicians and you have a formula for multiple disaster. They will try it elsewhere, bringing ever more attention to themselves.

    I have written this before in response to education segments on OnPoint. Tom Ashbrook acts like it’s a brand new topic, sort of like Etch-A-Sketch. Just wipe the slate clean and start over again as if all memory has been erased from previous shows. It’s radio, a form of show biz. Keep the rubes tuning in, just like in ball park turnstiles.

    I worked in minority majority schools near Chicago as a substitute teacher in the early 1990s. What I found was the greatest problems the students faced were outside the schools – their family situations, gangs, poverty, and dismal prospects for the future. There also was peer pressure against persevering in schoolwork.

    One ironic situation was a day I taught math classes, and in one class a student asked for help with an extra credit question on a test. He also treated me with respect, calling me Mr. Hamilton. He wore a dress shirt and tie, and had close-cropped hair. In other words, his family was part of the Nation of Islam. He had protection for his school efforts. No one dared to mess with him. That was what it took to be a normal student trying to learn something.

    Here in Wisconsin the governor is trying to expand charter schools in the state, despite Wisconsin having some of the highest performing schools in the country. He is doing this for three reasons. One of course is to break the unions. A second reason is that he can reward crony entrepreneurs who ante-up with campaign donations. And the third, and most criminal reason, is that, pass or fail, he can use the effort as a springboard to run for president. We already had Bush for eight years. The country can elect anyone to be its president.

    It doesn’t take a radio show to figure these things out. The fact that you have to keep covering the same subject over and over, with NOTHING resulting from it should tell everyone who listens (and works for WBUR) that this is just more bread and circus.

    • John_Hamilton

      Maybe Groundhog Day is a better metaphor. Except the one difference is the Bill Murray character learned from experience.

  • Government_Banking_Serf

    #betterschools!

  • StilllHere

    This was an effort by Zuckerberg to counter the image of him from The Social Network where he was made out to be some sort of twisted, conniving genius. He was looking for some good pr, that’s all, not trying to change the world.

    • Government_Banking_Serf

      Spending money, failing to change the world, but getting good PR for trying.

      He’d fit right in in DC

  • Alan Acker

    I invite people to read my post, Public and Charter Schools, at The Examined Life blog (alansacker.blogspot.com). By definition, charter (or any other school) cannot educate children better or worse than public schools because what is needed to educate a child is the same for all systems.

    What is needed to educate a child: (1) A facility, i.e., a school. Certainly the condition of the school is a factor in a child’s education. Thus, states and cities need to invest in updating their school buildings. But, a public school, charter school, and private school all can have proper buildings. (2) Current technology. Here, too, public, charter, and private schools can have current technology. (3) Trained educators. All public school systems have minimum accreditation standards for their public school teachers. This is not always so with charter schools and teachers at charter schools sometimes are not licensed to teach at public schools.. (4) Up to date books and supplies. Once again, public schools can match charter and private schools with respect to books and educational materials. (5) Students and parents who support education and school. This is the most important factor because education requires a willing student and supportive parents. Public schools must accept all who qualify for attendance, even those students who resist education and those students who do not have a supportive home life. One reason why some private schools can do so well, is because they can reject students who are not likely to do well. Not so with public schools.

    There is nothing magical about charter schools. If they have developed improved methods of teaching, then such methods can be used in public schools. In many areas, charter schools drain public money from public schools. In some areas, children begin at a charter school, the charter school then receives funds based on its student population, but, then many students return to the public school, but the money stays with the charter school.

  • Pleiades

    The simple fact is Mark Zuckerburg knows how to take all the Facebook data each of you provide and turn in data-for-the-highest bidder, but he knows nothing beyond that. Governor Christie and Mayor Booker are two of the most over-rated politicians available on the political marketplace.

    Essentially, this is another example where the available money without a well-thoughtout plan fails school administrators, teachers and especially students! It begs the question: where is the money, and what did the students of Newark, NJ receive for it?

  • ps2020

    All Dale Russakoff should re- read chapter 9 of fellow New Yorker contributor Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers to understand why some charters do well. It is all about time in school compared to time out of school. Kipp Schools have10 hour school days, two Saturdays a month and at least 3 weeks in the summer when at risk kids lose most of their gains. Allocate funds to do this in public schools and the results will be as good if not better.

    • 228929292AABBB

      There’s a common theme in many of these comments – it’s not hard to
      know what to do with schools you just keep kids in school more often and
      longer, and provide more emotional and other forms of support there.
      And that points to the real issue, which we should face. Family is
      more powerful than school. The idea that schools can fix the children
      of failing families is first of all incorrect (that’s why efforts like
      this fail) and second of all wrong. All this talk about 10 hour days
      and summer school, call it what it is – an orphanage. The kids sleep
      at home and that’s all. Well what about families who haven’t abandoned
      their responsibilities to their children, and want them home in the
      evening and summer? What about the families who are capable of, and
      want to raise their own children rather than having the school do it?
      If you want to fix families in the US go ahead and try. But don’t try
      to out-school family failure. It’s doomed and it’s wrong.

      You
      take care of your business at home and school will take care of itself.
      That’s why ethnic groups with functional family structures thrive and
      don’t find poverty to be the unbreakable cycle the deluded educational
      theorists and commenters on this page try to pass it off as.

  • Jim Rogers

    It seems we always go after the symptoms…and not look at the roots of problems…especially in the case of education, Home is Where the Start Is and parents are the managers there. If parents had some training, some education in how to do the most important job there is, raising another human being…then we could reduce so many of our social ills, including the achievement gap and the so called poverty element. We know for sure from research of 50 years that when parents are effectively involved with the education of their children, the children do better in every way and their chances for life success are greater. Schools should develop engagement programs to give IN-Service training for parents as they do teachers. Professional development since no profession is more important than preparing our youth for their future. Offering parents and caregivers a chance for education that helps them understand their children and their roles in the growth and development is essential. Pew says so, Joyce Epstein says so, PTA says so…so many do and yet we do not get it done…and we have to. We have to. Parenting education and family management should be required courses in high school helping young people realize the importance of making a decision to have children. The parents want the best for their children, but they just don;t know how to give it and get it. They need help in the beginning and all through the educational years. Those who can help, have to.
    Jim

  • andic_epipedon

    Tom. Thanks for having this discussion. It is a very important discussion to have. I think if we continue to scratch the surface of this problem we might find out there are different challenges in each district. This Zuckerberg thing is an interesting side note, but I’m more concerned with the broader picture. I was fortunate to have a reasonably stable if not wealthy childhood in a good school district in California which you mentioned doesn’t spend that much money per child. I am astounded at the money being thrown at the problems in Newark and the inability of management to make a dent in the problem. I am currently living in an area that does not have as many challenges as Newark, but has the same level of high school drop out. I would welcome more shows dedicated to the topic of what is going on in our education system.

  • nj_v2

    Glen Beck has the answers…

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/05/13/the-8-most-ridiculous-attacks-on-public-educati/199284

    The 8 Most Ridiculous Attacks On Public Education In Glenn Beck’s New Book

    1. Longer School Days Help Teachers Encourage “Teen Sexual Activity.”

    2. “Most Teachers Get A Raise For Not Dying Over The Summer.”

    3. Teachers Don’t Need Tenure Because “Parents Will Hold [Principals] Accountable.”

    4. Teachers’ Colleges Are “Not Very Hard” To Get Into And Are “Marxist Brainwashing Factories.”

    5. “Radical Educators” Use Civil Rights To “Further Their Marxist Agenda.”

    6. Common Core Helps Progressives Remove Parents From Their Children’s Lives.

    7. “Controllists” Want To Serve School Meals So That Kids Will Be In School More And To Teach Kids That Everything Is Free.

    8. Former President George W. Bush and Governor Chris Christie Are “Progressives.”

    • StilllHere

      Glen Beck! Booga Booga!

    • hennorama

      Glen Beck is still around?

  • yourstruly

    What is the ‘sense of community’ like for the families of Newark, New Jersey? Are there strong feelings of oppression? Is it an oppressed society?

  • MrBigStuff

    As a teacher in a small county, I can tell you that the top heavy bureaucracy is everywhere. Nepotism is another huge contributing factor and it doesn’t need a district of 500,000 students to exist.

  • 228929292AABBB

    There’s a common theme in many of these comments – it’s not hard to know what to do with schools you just keep kids in school more often and longer, and provide more emotional and other forms of support there. And that points to the real issue, which we should face. Family is more powerful than school. The idea that schools can fix the children of failing families is first of all incorrect (that’s why efforts like this fail) and second of all wrong. All this talk about 10 hour days and summer school, call it what it is – an orphanage. The kids sleep at home and that’s all. Well what about families who haven’t abandoned their responsibilities to their children, and want them home in the evening and summer? What about the families who are capable of, and want to raise their own children rather than having the school do it? If you want to fix families in the US go ahead and try. But don’t try to out-school family failure. It’s doomed and it’s wrong.

    You take care of your business at home and school will take care of itself. That’s why ethnic groups with functional family structures thrive and don’t find poverty to be the unbreakable cycle the deluded educational theorists and commenters on this page try to pass it off as.

  • Joseph F. Whelan

    She is a skilled writer. Writing for the New Yorker is demanding and she has my respect. However, she is not a skilled speaker and she and many others in the media are too fond of fillers including “like,” “uh,” and “y’know.” When I hear those expressions, I begin to suspect a poor understanding of simile, vocabulary deficiencies, or a need for constant affirmation to ease insecurity. Worst of all is combining “it’s+like+y’know.” I’d rather have a quiet pause to assure me that neurons are firing in the speaker’s brain, but, of course, media moguls live in deathly fear of “dead air.”

  • Regular_Listener

    After listening to the program, I’m still not sure what happened to that huge (and very generous) donation from Mr. Zuckerberg. Did anything of lasting value come from that at all?

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