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Education Nation

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How to Spend $100 Million, or $200 Million, in Your School System

By Brian Thompson
|  Thursday, Sep 23, 2010  |  Updated 6:51 PM EDT
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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

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What will Newark do with its 100 million dollar gift?
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News that Facebook founder and billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is donating $100 Million to Newark and its ailing school system begs a key question: What to do with all that money?

We may not know for awhile how it is going to be spent, but people are already speculating.

And we should note here that it appears to be a challenge grant -- so that means Mayor Cory Booker has to raise another $100 Million to match it, something he appears to be confidant he can do.

(After all, Barbra Streisand is among the notable who have donated to his political campaigns.)

Trish Roemer, 51, a sixth grade teacher at Robert Treat Academy Charter School, said "It's great, the kids need it."

Roemer works in a classroom with the latest in technology and said the money needs to be spent in the public schools on that, and teacher training and development.

"Things have changed so much in the past five years," Roemer said, noting for example "The smart board that we have was non-existent."

Veronica Heinlein-Wood, 47 and the music teacher at Robert Treat, was once a public school teacher before coming to the Academy a decade ago.

"I was not allowed to be dynamic, I was not allowed to be creative," she said, in describing the difference with her charter school experience.

She is hoping this money will help other teachers have the kind of experience she has now that allow her to "match the needs and the skills of each student."

But, "It's not an easy fix, it's not an easy solution," said Theresa Adubato, principal of the Robert Treat Academy, one of Newark's first charter schools.

Adubato, who was a student in the Newark public schools, and who taught there for ten years, is among those excited about the donation.

Asked if the public school situation is hopeless, Adubato responded, "I don't believe that, because if you say that then you say there is no hope for children and I certainly don't believe that."

Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @Brian4NY

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