Sunday, October 25, 2015

Zuckerberg’s Expensive Lesson

Joe Nocera's take:

The education reform community is furious at the way it is portrayed in the book; one such critic, Laura Waters, described "The Prize" as "a fairy tale about reform," basing her comment on a Times review. Others believe that Russakoff overlooked some of the good things that have taken place in Newark, especially in the area of teacher training, and the fact that the public schools are at least marginally better.

But Russakoff doesn't let those propagating the status quo off the hook, either. She describes the schools system as an "employer of last resort." She shows the enormous impediments to real change imposed by the teachers' union.

…There is another way to approach reform, a way that includes collaboration with the teachers, instead of bullying them or insulting them. A way that involves the community rather than imposing top-down decisions. A way that allows for cross-pollination between charters and traditional public schools so that the best teaching practices become commonplace in both kinds of schools.

As for Mark Zuckerberg, his experience in Newark does not appear to have deterred him. Last year he pledged $120 million to high-poverty schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. This time, however, he is insisting that he will collaborate with parents, teachers, school leaders and officials of both charter organizations and school districts, according to an op-ed he wrote with his wife, Priscilla Chan, in The San Jose Mercury News.

Apparently, Zuckerberg has learned his lesson. What will it take for the rest of us to learn?


Zuckerberg's Expensive Lesson

It's just hitting bookstores, but Dale Russakoff's new book, "The Prize: Who's in Charge of America's Schools?," has already become a source of enormous contention, both in Newark, where the story takes place, and among education advocates of various stripes.

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