Oprah, Facebook, Christie And Booker: Perfect for Newark?

Remember the $400 millon mistake that cost New Jersey schools big time? Here’s something that’s taking the focus off that. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is giving Newark schools $100 million, if Gov. Christie steps back and lets Newark Mayor Cory Booker take more of a lead role. Newark currently spends $400 million for its schools.

Christie and Booker are in Chicago this morning to announce it all on Oprah, who is a big Booker fan.

What say you? Does Cory Booker have enough on his plate without taking a more active role in Newark’s schools? Or is he just the man to do it? What about concerns over how it was a backroom deal? And what do you make of it all playing out on Oprah?

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  1. Oh this is super. So not only will the City of Newark blow the money that the tax payers of Montclair and Glen Ridge give them through our inflated real estate taxes, they have another $100 million to waste. How much money can be thrown at the same thing with no results before we all wake up?

  2. Well it’s a step in the right direction. The mayor and people of Newark should be in charge of the education of their own children. As long as it’s their money. Their taxes should go to their children’s education and our tax money to ours and the state should have minimum involvement.

  3. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but no matter how good the education these kids are getting is, they still largely come from broken homes and have to deal with a lot of outside pressures to stray from the right path. We need more community programs and stronger family services in areas like Newark.

  4. nocorzine, you beat me to it!

    Seriously though, this is great IF there is plenty of money going to keeping families together, teens from having kids and fathers around after the child is born– all NON-EDUCATIONAL issues that are the reason why Newark (and other inner-city, minority majority schools) continues to fail.

    But IF the money goes to new beautiful schools, computers, smiling teachers etc. expect more of the same.

    I still don’t understand why folks insist on thinking that all failing schools need is money.

    If Facebook can help the inner-city (and sadly, Black) culture back to being family-centered, we’ll benefit.

    Unfortunately, I think it will simply provide new furniture on the Titanic.

  5. I still don’t understand why folks insist on thinking that in order to “keep families together, teens from having kids and fathers around after the child is born” all we need is more money.

  6. (Some cynics will say that this money is to counter the portrayal of him in the film, The Social Network. For that, it may work. And if so, I think Montclair filmmakers should make a film calling Bill Gates a SOB baby-killer, we might get 50 million!)

  7. Prof I’m sure you know about the classic “self fulfilling prophecy” research” – teacher’s expectations are critical to student’s success. The bells and whistles won’t do it. But educators and those willing to assist must find ways to help and encourage the at risk kids to grow past their dysfunctional families.

  8. If Booker is smart, he’ll set up some kind of Vocational High School training programs. We could use that in Montclair too. Heck, every system could use that. College is not the only way. Not all intelligences are academic. We should provide vocational training in addition to academic training.

  9. That ROC is also one of the keys to educational success – teaching to the learning/thinking styles and interests of students. Most of K12 education is geared to the factory model – all the same – and is another reason for lack of success for some students.

  10. If were only a “dysfunctional famil[y]” we had to worry about.

    It’a a culture. An entire culture that is pervasive and all consuming that no matter how high the expectations are, will always drag the vast majority of kids down. (Thankfully, some escape.)

    The only answer is to get the kids out of town. Really, there are several inner-city boarding schools (in DC) that take this approach, because they recognize that having kids in great schools with high expectations from 8-2 can NEVER counteract the bad neighborhoods, friends and family that are around the remainder of the day.

    As I’ve written before, Black kids have always had bad family lives (though never like now), but there was always a cultural thing that told Black kids that they had to be BETTER than White kids. Ask someone Black over 50, they’ll tell you.

    That was lost in the late 60’s/early 70’s.

    And we’ve never recovered.

  11. A town without children? May work for some but not all. Truth is you can spot many needy kids in kindergarden even when they’ve gone through a good preschool program. Most efforts had been remedial – which is way too late. I’m hoping for solid well researched positive developmental programs. I agree completely with your point of view regarding the culture but I also remain positive regarding potential. And I do place major expectations on the school system and related services. Hopefully this money will bring a spotlight along with it.

  12. “Black kids have always had bad family lives”

    A breathtakingly sweeping generalization which I don’t believe for a second.

  13. Breathtaking, sweeping and general for ALL. Yes. For most. Sadly, Yes.

    Tell me then, when in American history have Black kids had good family lives? They have always been the lowest on almost every scale- poverty being the most obvious, education, unemployment, etc.

    This can’t be news to you.

    So while we can point to some periods in time when the Black family was intact and communities thrived, on the whole in American, you still had Jim Crow, red-lining, restrictions, etc. Not sure if you can call it a happy family life when both parents are carrying the baggage of being beaten down and discriminated against everyday

    The Voting Rights Act was only 35 years ago.

    But if you have other facts that show that Black kids have had good family lives, I’ll listen and reserve my comment.

  14. I’ll leave the sweeping generalizations to you prof. I wouldn’t generalize any demographic group’s “family life”. It’s an absurdity no matter how you now backpedal and try to reframe “family life’.

  15. BIGOTRY has had as much to do with the devastation of the black families as economic pressures. So yes the Prof is probably correct most black kids have suffered in their families. I suppose a definition of what “good” means might help the discussion. The love is probably there in many poor families and that’s good .. But resources an goals are so very limited.

  16. Not exactly what I have in mind bebo. I think (like in the UK) there should be a test in your sophomore year of high school. If you pass you get pre-college classes and if you don’t you get vocational training in High School. In my opinion if you don’t maintain adequate progress in your junior and senior year (in either program) you should then be dropped from the school’s enrollment.

  17. Will Newark be able to sustain the cost of whatever is created with this financial initiative? Creating institutions that are only funded for a single year adds a tremendous burden on taxpayers in the future.

  18. “BIGOTRY has had as much to do with the devastation of the black families as economic pressures.”

    Sorry, that’s an excuse. You can have intact, loving, healthy families despite bigotry and economic disadvantage.

  19. Yes Roc I noted that when I suggested love exists. But I’m not as cavalier as you MAY be when you blow off bigotry as an excuse.

    And as for your school solution re college/voc tract You’re way too late .. School remediation must start earlier.

  20. It’a a culture. An entire culture that is pervasive and all consuming that no matter how high the expectations are, will always drag the vast majority of kids down.

    By some fluke that probably will never be repeated in the history of the universe, the prof is right. Black kids are more likely to come from broken homes — I’m pretty sure the stats bear this out, ROC, though unlike you I’m too lazy to Google them. And the culture glorifies ne’er do wells rather than achievers.

    I heard an interesting story about an Af-Am kid, 8th grader, from Renaissance (I think), who was given an award for academic achievement. The kid just aced everything. During his acceptance speech he invoked his mother, who is from the islands (Jamaica?). She told him, “You’re a black boy, so you have to do everything two times better than the other kids.” Damn, I have to say, I’m full of admiration for that. It says: don’t make excuses, don’t bitch about how unfair the world is, just get it done.

    Malcolm X had it right.

  21. Oh, snap! I made comment of the minute! Pardon me while I add it to my resume, right after my previous accolade, “Winner of the Baristanet Post of the Day Award.” My goal now is to win “Post of the Second,” which would give me the hat trick.

  22. This should be a very interesting “experiment” to watch. I just hope that they establish clear measurements so that this can be monitored in an objective fashion. Do we use standards such as test scores, graduation rates or closing the achievement gap?

  23. Not that someone as unblemished as ‘Roo needs it, but I can corroborate his story – I was there and that’s indeed what that outstanding young man said.
    It brought tears to my eyes, as I have known the student and his mom for a number of years.

    Here’s another anectdote – one recent afternoon, hubby was driving down our street and saw the neighbor boy (7th, 8th grade?) walking slowly away from home, with his backpack weighing heavily on his back. Hubby asked the kid where he was headed? … To the library — because his family has no computer and some research was needed for a homework assignment. A walk of about a mile. Not horrible, but long enough, especially at 4PM when he would have to walk back at dusk. Needless to say hubby gave him a lift.

    The point is, he doesn’t have all the bells and gadgets at home, but was dedicated to the task. At this age he’s young enough to listen to his mom and go the distance. But as he gets older, who knows? He may become disenchanted with all the extra effort he has to go to when he sees his peers surfing the web at home in their jammies. Will he lose his drive, and give up? Will he become even more driven, and succeed in many different ways? Will he refuse to walk to the library again if he gets jumped by the big kids? There are so many factors affecting the a student’s success or failure that it’s hard to pinpoint any one in particular.

    somethin’ to think about.

  24. There sure are many factors Kay but I really think that until the world sees the color of skin as they see eye and hair color as simply pigmentation without any other meaning attached then our blacks kids will always have an uphill battle.

  25. Sounds like the Prof is in favor of more BoysTown type schools. remember when gingrich made this suggestion in th 90’s and he was strung out to dry. newt is an ass but the idea of boystown is right on.

  26. Wow, there’s nothing better than people who aren’t Black making sweeping generalizations and criticism on the Black family.

    I am from a Black family, born and raised in Newark and offspring of those who grew up in the segregated South. While institutional racism and bigotry were something that my ancestors had to deal with, I can assure that their family life was a happy one. Please, don’t speak on behalf of what the Black family experienced in their units if you are not from one.

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