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Education Facebook The Almighty Buck

Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little 335

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In 2010 the state of public education in Newark, New Jersey was dire. The city's school system was a disaster, replete with violence, run-down buildings, and a high-school graduation rate of only 54%. Newark's mayor at the time, Cory Booker, teamed up with governor Chris Christie to turn the schools around. At the same time, Mark Zuckerberg was looking to get his feet wet in big-time philanthropy. The three hatched a plan, and Zuckerberg committed $100 million to reforming the schools. Four years later, most of the money is gone, and Newark's children are still struggling. Tens of millions were spent on consulting groups, and yet more went to union negotiations. Plans to change how teacher seniority affected staffing decisions — in order to reward results rather than persistence — were dashed by political maneuvering. The New Yorker provides a detailed account in a lengthy piece of investigative journalism, and MSN provides a summary."
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Zuckerberg's $100 Million Education Gift Solved Little

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  • Re:Breaking news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rmdingler (1955220) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @08:20PM (#46994991)
    If you think taxpayer-funded governmental programs are rife with waste and inefficiency, you're probably correct.

    Imagine that! Giving the same folks more money above and beyond taxes didn't improve things even marginally.

    Not to take anything away from what I believe is a magnanimous gesture by Zuck, but perhaps a college scholarship program would better serve the needs of inner city youths.

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @08:26PM (#46995037) Homepage

    Personally, I'm of the opinion that the Department of Education should do studies on how to teach kids & how to motivate them to do better ... how public vs. private vs. charter schools affect them, etc.

    And study what the long-term effects are of just paying the kids when they get good grades:

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com... [usatoday.com]

    Because the short term seems to be that they do better ... and it's a hell of a lot cheaper than most other things that people come up with. (but then again, the money doesn't go to some corportation with a great 'solution' to the problem)

  • Unions and comitties (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @08:27PM (#46995043)

    The problem with the education system in this country are pretty strait forward. They stem directly from the completely inflexible teachers union (who should be ashamed of themselves) and management that does nothing more than attend endless meetings over and over that churn out bullet point after bullet point. My kids school actually has some pretty good teachers by some miracle, but the management issue is ridiculous. I try to be an involved parent but all the events they have are so ridiculous it borders on insanity. They always serve Pizza Pit, the champaign of pizza. Follow that up with great games or skits to entertain the crowd... then the principle gives a 30 to 45min speech about all the great plans she has (but will never implement) then they let the parents talk for about 10min and avoid answering all our questions like "When will you fill in the 6 foot sink hole in the middle of the playground?" and no, I'm not kidding, there really is a 6' sinkhole.

    The last one I went to they sent out a questionnaire that asked:
    What is most important to you in the education of your child?
    a. Hands on learning
    b. A diverse and equitable learning environment
    c. An involved teaching staff

    What the hell does that mean? I just circled them all and wrote "YES" underneath. And these people have 4 to 8 year degrees.

  • Re:Breaking news (Score:1, Interesting)

    by gewalker (57809) <{Gary.Walker} {at} {AstraDigital.com}> on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @08:48PM (#46995191)

    And charter schools ARE public schools. Yes, some are clearly even worse than the regular gov. schools, in particular some of the money sucking for-profit version. Some charter schools are also clearly better.

    Thanks for playing anyway.

  • Re:Dear Mark (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @09:07PM (#46995311)

    You can't blame this on overall funding levels - the US spends more than just about any other nation on public education. Funding is uneven, however.

    We have very serious structural problems with our education system that more money will not solve.

  • by Vidar Leathershod (41663) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @09:16PM (#46995387)

    Here in my upstate NY town, we spend $27,000 per student per year, almost on the nose. I just looked quickly at the cost of prep schools. Rutgers Preparatory was one of the first results from Google. It's yearly tuition is $28,240. They have a little over half of the enrollment of our school district. Tell me again how spending on kids has gone down, and tell me how we are going to improve their education by spending more money?

    You could take each class year (90 students per class year), hire 9 teachers, for 10 students per teacher, and get:

    a 1 million dollar building (more than what you need, and only need to buy it once every 40 years)
    2 full time custodial staff at $90,000 total compensation per custodian
    $200,000 yearly maintenance/heat/electric on the building.
    and pay those teachers 116,500 per year in total compensation.

    Now, if you would like to add some features, go ahead and do so. I think I am being very generous with the million dollar property. After all, you could spend 1 million more each year on property and buildings and still not have an issue excepting increased maintenance costs, and that's just for the kindergarteners. I'm sure you have a much more nuanced understanding of what is needed to educate our children. Why don't you enlighten us further?

  • Re:Technically (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jmv (93421) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @09:31PM (#46995487) Homepage

    But there is definitely an allure to private schools, where the vast majority of the students are there to learn, most of the parents care enough to spend inordinate amounts of money on education, and the entire system is geared towards keeping your business and keeping those Ivy League acceptance rates up instead of ass-covering.

    Having been to a private school, I can tell you that most of the focus is not education, but on looking good to the parents. I don't think teachers are any better (though probably not worse), and the main reason students are better come down to pre-selection (entrance exam, no poor children). The only fundamental plus is that they're allowed to expel troublemakers.

  • No, not so much (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rsilvergun (571051) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @09:33PM (#46995493)
    Post office is model of efficiency, and studies show private and charter schools spend more on administrative costs (read:profit for the owners) that public schools. But hey, keep repeating a lie [wordpress.com] often enough and it's bound to become true sooner or later, right?

    Or could it be that good education is really, really expensive, and that $100 million dollars isn't really a lot of money on the scale of a State of American. Could it also be that a lot of that $100 million was spent on trying to make the school district turn out cheap employees for facebook?
  • Re:Breaking news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sphealey (2855) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @10:07PM (#46995677)

    - - - - - I may be naive, but can't students from failed charter schools attend another charter school as well as the conventional public school? - - - - -

    I'd suggest reading the series in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the model charter school program in that city. Two sets of articles: the first hopeful and complementary, describing how powerful institutions in the region (universities, medical centers, etc) were going to sponsor each of the five "super charters", full backing of the political class, will fix all the problems and can't fail, etc... Then the second set of articles four years later when the for-profit operator pulled out (no profits), the big sponsors disappeared, and the children were told in June they were going back to their home public school districts (which were in even worse shape after losing four years of funding).

    Sure, parents can find different charters. Of course that's a large investment of time, effort, and money for a family which might not have much of any of those to spare. But it is important to keep in mind the effect on the children: pulled away from their friends, their teachers, their familiar building and routine. A school and a teacher can be very large things in the life of a 2nd grader (esp one from a neighborhood where the school might be the only safe place he can go); pulling them here and there by what seems to them a whim is not a good thing. To me anyway.

    I would suggest that, but unfortunately last time I checked the STLPD had put up a paywall so those articles may no longer be available. Try google and see if you can get to them though. Here's one link

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/l... [stltoday.com]
    sPh

  • Re:Dear Mark (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sphealey (2855) on Tuesday May 13, 2014 @10:51PM (#46995911)

    - - - - - Vint Cerf - Vinton F'ing Cerf - was not allowed to fill in for his kids schools CS teacher for a couple of months while the teacher was unable to teach.
    The reason for this was that Vinton F'ing Cerf did not have a California teacher certification to prove he knew how to teach computer science. Clearly unqualified, after having invented the F'ing Internet. - - - - -

    There is a hell of a lot more to working as a K-12 teacher and successfully and safely managing multiple classrooms of students than just technical/domain knowledge. Try volunteering at your local middle school for a few weeks and tell me how "inventing the f'ing Internet" [not technically accurate, but we'll let that go] is of any value at all in handling a classroom full of kids who act like young adults one minute, wild toddlers the next minute, and insane hormone-crazed preteens the third. Also tell me about how "inventing the f'ing Internet" gives one an understanding of the legal requirements of being a school employee in your state and county (e.g. sexual harassment regulations and reporting requirements, counseling students who approach you to report abuse at home, the 8347 reporting requirements of NCLB, etc).

    I've known some very good college professors who fled the high school classroom in terror when invited on site to teach AP classes, and who weren't afraid to admit they couldn't do what their HS counterparts do. Yes, there is a reason for teacher certification requirements.

    sPh

  • Re:Breaking news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrvan (973822) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @03:52AM (#46997069)

    Just for another perspective: In the Netherlands, a constitutional deadlock between religious and liberal parties in the early 1900s resulted in a compromise with financing of religious schools and universal suffrage both constitutionally enshrined in 1917/1918.

    The result is that anyone can start a school, and if it matches minimum quality requirements it has to be funded on the same (relatively generous) level as public schools. This lead to a lot of catholic and orthodox protestant schools being established, but also to Montessori, Jena and similar alternative schooling methods. The schools are under scrutiny of the government and they do need to teach a basic curriculum, but are free in teaching religion, values etc. and also in approaching the teaching the way they want it. Most bigger villages have a public primary school as well as one or more religious schools, and the religious ones are usually not very fundamentalist, many atheists have no problem sending their kid to a religious school if it is better or more convenient.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

    Of course, this system has some serious problems as well. People are now choosing religious schools sometimes mainly because they are more "white", there are clashes with e.g. christian schools trying to block gay or non-christian teachers, and there were some issues of low quality teaching on Islamic schools.

    See e.g. http://vorige.nrc.nl/internati... [vorige.nrc.nl]

  • Re:Dear Mark (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:18AM (#46997273)

    Second point: the entire job of a teacher, particularly a K-8 teacher, is to evaluate students and set good progression goals for that student. That's what they do all day, every day. I'm sorry if you personally had some K-12 teachers who missed that mark (I'm not saying there aren't some at the lower end of the capability distribution - stats says there will be), but the vast majority of teachers I've met work very hard to do just that and are quite good at it.

    sPh

    While I agree many teachers try to do that, the reality is standardized test force them to teach to passing a test; because if students fail to score high enough the school gets penalized. As a result, test performance, rather than real learning, becomes paramount. Teachers hate it but have to play along in order to succeed.

  • Re:Breaking news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Evtim (1022085) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @05:59AM (#46997369)

    Small addendum: anecdotal but still - I know many non-religious parents that came to regret sending their kids to religious schools. I personally never understood their optimism that somehow their kids would escape the indoctrination.....

  • by cheekyboy (598084) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @06:40AM (#46997491) Homepage Journal

    If 100M yields no results, call the FBI.

    All those advisors and union officials need to go to jail now.

    And kids, lesson of the day, all school work was a waste of time to graduate, just become a union official or politician, no qualififications, easy money, and your above the law.

  • Re:Breaking news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheP4st (1164315) on Wednesday May 14, 2014 @07:07AM (#46997583)

    How on earth do you spend tens of millions on consulting groups?

    Not that hard when as the MSN article states "Many of the consultants were being paid upwards of $1,000 a day.", nothing is being said about what the average consultant fee were but for the sake of argument let's say it is $500 that amount to just 4000 days of paid consultants with an average of 250 working days per year that comes down to 3.2 full time consultants per year that evidently have been grossly overpaid.
    Very few careers beyond politics reward ability to talk and write BS combined with failure and/or incompetence to such an extent as that of consultancy.

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