Newark schools squandered $100-million gift

06/16/2014 7:00 PM

06/16/2014 7:01 PM

Glenn Garvin’s June 4 Other Views column, The pitiful story of Newark’s school system, about the looted money donated by Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg is on point. I say looted because there really is no better word for what happened to the $100-million donation. They would have had far better results by either giving the money directly to those families or donating it in the form of vouchers to be used at any school.

Accountability is always the key component. Without it, we are doomed to accept nonperforming teachers, administrators and a lying high school principal/councilman/mayor such as Ras Baraka.

Charter and private-school detractors like to point out the failings and elitism of these schools. Charter and private schools that don’t deliver a decent education fail and close. Those teachers and administrators probably go back to non-accountable public schools. And truly there can be no more of an elitist than Baraka, who basically said, “My way is the best and only way” in opposition to all evidence to the contrary. Many public schools are accountable to their students by providing a decent education — unfortunately, many are strangled by nonperforming teachers, inept administrators and union contracts that have nothing to do with providing an education and everything to do with a giant money grab.

The heartbreaking part of this is that these poverty-stricken families voted for Baraka, thus blocking the one sure path (education) out of poverty for their children.

I was so excited for Newark when in 2010 the Zuckerbergs, in conjunction with the then-Mayor Cory Booker and Gov. Chris Christie made the announcement on Oprah Winfrey’s show. What a sad conclusion to a bright and hopeful idea.

One can only hope that this next donation has all kinds of strings and accountability markers attached to it. Unfortunately, California is currently bought and paid for by public sector unions so I doubt that this $120 million will have any better impact on children getting an education than the prior donation did.

Jeannette Graham, Coral Gables

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