September 24th, 2010
08:58 AM ET

$100 million: Will it make a difference in Newark?

If you had a spare $100 million, what is the one thing you would do? Well, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and TV queen Oprah Winfrey are getting together today to hand over that amount to help to give a fighting chance to  inner city kids in Newark, New Jersey, which has a troubled public schools system.

Newark is a city where 46% of students fail to graduate and only 20% go on to attend a four-year college. So is giving this school system $100 million really going to make a difference? Steve Perry, CNN education contributor and principal and founder of Capital Preparatory magnet school, and David Kirkpatrick, author of "The Facebook Effect", weigh in:

John Roberts: The premiere of  "The Social Network" [a movie about Zuckerberg and the birth of Facebook] is out tonight. Is he trying to fight back against that image?

David Kirkpatrick: This can't be a complete coincidence. Clearly the movie that premieres tonight and opens nationwide next week, which really does portray him unflatteringly is something he's not happy about. It cannot be a complete coincidence that the first time he's ever come out of the gate and basically done anything related to anything other than Facebook is exactly when the movie's coming out. On the other hand, I do believe he really does believe in education and I think probably what happened was, you know, this is something he's been talking about for a long time with a sort of vague aim to counter the image problem with the movie. The fact it ends up coming on the exact same day that the movie premieres has got to have been an uncomfortable coincidence that even he didn't want.

Steve Perry: This is not about the founder of Facebook. For me, it's about academics and about what happens in the schools, and we've been throwing money at the problem for a long time. I'm going to applaud the fact he's giving the money but in terms of performance, creating a better academic experience, if money were the issue, then prisons would be the most effective place to send children because that's where we spend the most money. It's about transforming the way in which we operate public education.

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Scottish mama

    I guess with this young man giving millions to a failling acedemic district, I wonder why he does not help the students in schools across the nation that are doing well each year and the funds in Missouri have been cut for our students. Throwing money at schools, at which the problem that has not been Identified to why they are failing. I am saying that maybe it is either teacher related or no parent participation. Both are core issues that prove to help in student learn, not throwing money at the problem. The St. Louis public schools have had their problems and I believe it is the caliber of teachers and I know for fact there is little parent participation.

    September 24, 2010 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. please

    why doesnt oprah help the poor or help the homeless especially black women in this country. shes smart and she knows our struggle first hand. its sad.

    September 24, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Aminata

      Have you ever been to Newark? It's filled with poor black people who are uneducated, hence the thoughtful donation.

      As for the people who are complaining that she should help people who are doing well in school... it's called scholarships and grants. there's a ton of them out there, believe me I apply and receive them every year. Student loans never hurt anybody either. The people who are doing well in school will be rewarded with opportunities. it's time to help the poor and stop punishing them because they are in a bad situation. That's so Dickensian.

      September 24, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Floria sigmundi

    It's about time they put their money to good use

    Check out this YouTube video

    September 24, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. scottish mama

    She does.She is a role model to many and promotes reading in adults. Why don't we help ourselves. Parents reading 20 minutes a day, helping with homework going to school once a week to help children with one of your talents[computer. math, readingto children] and staying in touch with teachers all helps. It is that simple, parents are not doing their jpb. When my children were young I volunteered to help, it was not my children that needed help, I was tutoring other children in other classes that needed help in math or just reading to children that their parents did not read to. Parents need to take responsibility for their child, not leave everything for the teacher. Feed your child breakfast, make sure they have supplies, make sure they are doing homework and get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.

    September 24, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. WLS

    Giving bureaucrats more money, is like throwing it down a hole.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. WLS

    Giving bureaucrats more money, is like throwing it down a hole
    Giving a college education to someone who needs and wants it, would be a far better use of 100 mil.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |