USA Today: What did Zuckerberg's $100 million buy in Newark? A bit of progress

October 16, 2017

A reporter from USA Today examines our latest report on the impact of Newark's education reforms on school achievement data from 2009 through 2016.

by Greg Toppo

In September 2010, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg went on The Oprah Winfrey Show, along with then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to announce an eye-popping gift: $100 million to reform Newark Public Schools.

Local philanthropists and others would match that, doubling the gift to $200 million.

In exchange, the struggling urban system was expected not only to welcome more independently run charter schools but to close low-performing schools, give families an easier way to choose a new school and enact a performance-based pay system for teachers.

In the seven years since Zuckerberg’s announcement, critics have not been shy in pointing out how much turmoil the effort has caused. But they haven’t had a good way to figure out whether Zuckerberg’s millions have been well-spent.

A new study, out Monday, represents the first attempt to answer that question. It finds that the cash made a difference — in a limited way.

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