According to published reports, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, 26, plans to donate “up to $100 million” to the troubled public school system of Newark, N.J., where only about half of 40,000 students graduate annually.
Mr. Zuckerberg, 26, who grew up in New York’s affluent Westchester County and now lives in California, has no particular connection to Newark. But in July, he and Newark Mayor Cory Booker met at a conference and began a continuing conversation about the mayor’s plans for the city, The New York Times reports.
Mr. Zuckerberg reportedly owns more than a quarter of Facebook’s stock, valued at more than $20 billion.
Mr. Booker, an advocate of school choice, has been traveling the country, meeting business leaders and celebrities, proselytizing and raising money for Newark. Among the options being considered, Mr. Booker reports, are closing schools and firing teachers. But he has said the Zuckerberg grant money won’t be used to fund private-school vouchers, according to Businessweek.
First and most obviously, the assets belong to Mr. Zuckerberg, they are his to do with as he chooses, and if he chooses to use some in an attempt to help children in a troubled school system, that’s a fine thing.
But if in fact this money is to be poured into a massively dysfunctional public school system with no stipulation that it be used only to promote radical change, the possibility exists that such spending could do more harm than good, by keeping on life support a dinosaur from which those children would be better liberated.
Ironically, the Obama administration is in the process of de-funding the District of Columbia’s (private-school) Opportunity Scholarship Program, which was distressing the Democrats’ teacher union sponsors by proving too popular with the parents of 1,700 poor children otherwise trapped in the dysfunctional public schools of the nation’s capital.
It’s too bad Mr. Zuckerberg didn’t see fit to help promote an enterprise such as that.