Nightly News   |  September 27, 2011

Is Zuckerberg money put to good use in NJ?

A year ago, billionaire Mark Zuckerberg went on "Oprah" and announced a gift of $100 million to the public schools of Newark, NJ. NBC’s Lisa Myers looks at what Newark's been doing with the money, and what they have to show for it, one year later.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> it's an enormous gathering under a tent on what is normally the skating rink out back here behind our building. education nation has been in full swing the last few days. just today we hosted both laura bush and bill clinton and a number of others. tonight we follow up on something that started a year ago. you may remember the picture of mark zuckerburg of facebook fame. he announced a gift to public schools in newark , new jersey. lisa myers looks at what they're doing with the money and what they have to show for it. how it's changing our education nation.

>> reporter: morning at one of two small innovative high schools opened this month. the most tangible result of the new money. the bard high school early college offers advanced instruction. graduates will also have earned a two-year college degree .

>> they want me to do better for myself. i have high expectations.

>> reporter: the new newark bridges high school offers individual attention for failing students and dropouts. like anaya who came to register with her mother and 2-year-old son.

>> i decided to come back, because without education there's nothing.

>> i would like to say thank you for giving newark a second chance.

>> reporter: the superintendent of schools -- so far what has this money enabled you to do?

>> it's given us a chance to innovate more quickly.

>> reporter: the challenge is enormous, by third grade, 60% of kids can't perform at grade level in reading and math. only 54% graduate from high school . so far, 8.4 million of the 100 million have been spent. partly for the new high schools to extend school days and to reward teacher creativity.

>> in some quarters of this city, the excitement over the gift had given way to skepticism even anger. some parents worry not all of newark 's children will benefit. have you seen any difference?

>> no. no, not one difference at all. there's no difference. and it's killing me inside.

>> reporter: quintina says her son lacks textbooks to bring home at night. he recently brought home a book to practice reading at night.

>> this is what the book looks like. i'm outraged.

>> reporter: cory booker appeals for patience.

>> we're not going to change the system overnight.

>> reporter: 9 measure of success will be when every child in newark has the skills to go to college. lisa myers , nbc news, newark .