As Ras Baraka was elected as the new mayor of Newark, N.J., on Tuesday (May 13), a revealing investigative report from The New Yorker was released and reminded the city of a multimillion-dollar donation that is still unaccounted for.
New Jersey native and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced in 2010 while on the Oprah show that he was going to gift Gov. Chris Christie and Mayor Cory Booker with $100 million for schools.
The large donation was to go toward enhancing education and, according to Zuckerberg, turn Newark into "a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation." But less than five years later, the money is gone.
Booker agreed to accept Zuckerberg’s donation under the terms that it would be released as matching donations came in and that Booker would replace the current superintendent, The New Yorker reported. Zuckerberg, Christie and Booker worked together to engage private donors from 2010 to 2012.
More than one-fifth, or $20 million, of the funds went to pay for public relations, human resources, communications and data analysis, as well as for teacher evaluations. Many of the consultants were being paid close to $1,000 per day.
Booker also was delayed in hiring a superintendent, but with persistence from Zuckerberg, he hired Cami Anderson. However, roadblocks, such as unplanned contractual payouts and varying interpretations of how to allocate funds, delayed the smooth transition to reform.
While the plans looked great on paper, now more than four years later the money is nearly gone and Newark’s residents are reminded of the educational plight they have faced since the 1967 riots. Booker, Anderson and Christie have yet to clearly explain how or where the money went and furthermore answer why Newark’s public schools still have such a long way to go.
Follow Dominique Zonyeé on Twitter: @DominiqueZonyee
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(Photo: Charles Sykes/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)