Mark Zuckerberg’s celebrated hundred million dollar gift to the Newark NJ schools worked about as well as any huge influx of more-mundane taxpayer cash ever did; not at all.
Zuckerberg’s donation was earmarked toward merit pay, charter schools, and systemic reforms. The charter schools worked well, but the city’s system for putting kids into charters was a goat rodeo. The reform money got swallowed up by consulting fees. And as to merit pay and teacher accountability?
Instead, the opposite occurred. Chris Cerf, the New Jersey commissioner of education at the time, worked with the Legislature and was able to negotiate some new accountability measures in teacher contracts.
But the teachers’ union only agreed upon those measures if the seniority protections remained intact.
Which meant that the teacher accountability money went to reinforce…unaccountability with teachers.
Reforming the public system, under its current politicized leadership, is like trying to argue with a blizzard.