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5 Years Later, Zuckerberg Says $100M Newark School Donation a Success

The Facebook CEO says the city's school have seen a "large improvement" in graduation rates.
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Five years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan donated $100 million to the public school system in Newark, New Jersey. Now, after some critics questioned the efficacy of the money and the reforms that came with it, Zuckerberg says the city's school have seen a "large improvement" in graduation rates.

Overall, Zuckerberg said, graduation rates in Newark high schools have jumped from 56 percent to 69 percent since his large investment in 2010.

"No effort like this is ever going to be without challenges, mistakes and honest differences among people with good intentions," Zuckerberg wrote Friday in a Facebook post. "We welcome a full analysis and debate of lessons learned. But it is important that we not overlook the positive results."

In September, after the publication of journalist Dale Russakoff's book on the impact of the donation, "The Prize: Who's In Charge Of America's Schools," Zuckerberg faced scrutiny from some over whether the money had changed Newark's school system for the better.

A recent report from The Wall Street Journal found that $88 million of Zuckerberg's $100 million donation has already been committed, much of it for merit bonuses, retroactive teacher pay, consultant and teacher training, and funds for charter school growth.

Zuckerberg said the change has been for the better.

"Parents in Newark now have more high quality public school choices than before," Zuckerberg said. He added that the district's charter schools now "rank as the 2nd highest performers in the nation" and that the "new teacher contract is already making a difference for students by helping to keep the best teachers."

Last month, Zuckerberg and Chan, a physician and former teacher, announced they were opening a new private school in East Palo Alto, California, for underserved children.

Zuckerberg wrote that the lessons learned from Newark are already being applied in the San Francisco Bay Area project.