Mark Zuckerberg donates $120 million to education
Facebook founder and young billionaire Mark Zuckerberg has donated $120 million to public schools in San Francisco. In an op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News, Zuckerberg explains that he could not sit idly by in the “world’s most innovative community” while public schools, particularly in disadvantaged areas, struggled.
This is not the first time that Zukerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have donated money to public education. In 2010, the couple donated $100 million to schools in Newark, N.J. As part of that deal, then-mayor Cory Booker had to front an additional $100 million in matching funds, sought out through other private donations. You would think with $200 million in additional funding, the Newark schools would have something to show for it (a lot of something) but in reality, the experiment ended up less-than-stellar. A New Yorker report stated that more than $20 million went to consultants, and now mayor Ras Baraka is trying to undo much of the reform that Booker began through Zuckerberg’s contributions.
Zuckerberg seems unfazed though, saying in his most recent op-ed that the work started in Newark has yet to be realized and that the area has the leading teacher contract in the country. He admitted, though, that he learned some lessons in the process that he will bring with him in the Bay Area donation process.
Whether billionaires should be financially involved in public school policy and reform is a tricky subject. On one hand, the money is nice. On the other, how much should business pillars be allowed say in what happens at the nation’s public schools? They are not business entities, after all.
The impact of Zuckerberg’s gift remains to be seen but will certainly set a precedent for future donations and the principle surrounding it.