Start with Josh Margolin’s excellent Statehouse synthesis of the Zuckerberg/Booker/Christie triumvirate, including the $100 million grant's history (the idea started at a Sun Valley fund-raiser); that the deal-in-the-making forced out former Newark Superintendent Clifford Janey; how our Race To The Top's anticipated (and realized) loss spurred the deal forward; Bret Schundler’s role; Christie’s view of his authority.
In light of the commitment engendered by the grant, Mayor Cory Booker announced that he will run for a third term. (Star-Ledger.) Also, at an interview that followed the screening of “Waiting for Superman,” Mark Zuckerberg, Newark’s benefactor, told reporters that the new foundation, Start Up: Education, which will administer the grant, will be run by Jennifer Holleran, a 20-year educator and former director of New Leaders for New Schools. Also, the Star-Ledger reports, "Newark will form its own group, which will make specific recommendations forwarded by community leaders and parents."
A few days before the grant was announced, Mark Zuckerberg did an interview with TechCrunch.com (reported on in the Star-Ledger)in which he emphasized his commitment to the expansion of charter schools, merit pay, and closing down failing schools. He also said that the “motivation” for his grant came from his girlfriend who is a Teach for America alum, and that he expect TFA to play a “significant role” in Newark.
Bloomberg reports that the money won't be used for private school vouchers.
The Wall Street Journal notes, "The donation has the potential to be matched by another $100 million that Mr. Booker has been working on raising from private foundations and others. The $200 million that could be raised would amount to more than 20% of Newark's budget of $940 million."
In a statement reported in the Christian Science Monitor, representatives of Newark's teachers' union said that they "look forward to working with Mark Zuckerberg and the entire Newark community to make this city’s schools a national model for urban education.”
From the Associated Press: "The money hasn't even arrived, but it's already creating a buzz in Newark, where three out of five third-graders can't read and write at their grade level. Barely half the students who begin high school manage to graduate, and most of them do so without passing the state's standard graduation exam."
From Star-Ledger: "Plagued by low test scores, high dropout rates and failing schools, the Newark district has been under state control for the past 15 years, sparked not only by its failures, but by disclosures of widespread waste and abuse, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money spent by school board members on trips, cars and entertainment."
And in other news...read NJ Spotlight for an alternate-universe political battle over the existence of a charter school in a moneyed suburb.
Also see The Record for a thorough analysis of the logistics and politics behind our Race To The Top loss.