Facebook mogul Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have announced they will fund a private comprehensive preschool and K-8 school for disadvantaged children in the East Palo Alto area.
According to siliconvalley.com, prospective Primary School in Palo Alto, which will serve 700 children and their families, follows the couple’s other lavish donations to education, including a $100 million gift to New Jersey schools, $7.5 million for college scholarships to undocumented students, and a $120 million pledge to schools in low-income Bay Area communities.
The Ravenswood Family Health Center, a federally funded clinic in East Palo Alto, will work with the school, offering comprehensive health care from prenatal care to medical, dental and mental-health services.
The Primary School is reportedly inspired by initiatives such as the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, Boston’s Codman Academy charter school, and Montessori schools, as well as California recommendations for “whole child” education.
Criticism of Zuckerberg’s gift to the Newark schools accused him of an elitist attempt to institute changes without consulting those in the school system; former newspaper reporter Dale Russakoff alleged that learning in the schools was not bettered as a result of Zuckerberg’s initiative. The New Yorker also accused Zuckerberg of elitism.
Much of the $100 million gift went to staff and consultants without producing any tangible or measurable benefits for students.
Ronda White, president of the Ravenswood Teachers Association, told siliconvalley.com that she was not happy with Zuckerberg’s new effort, stating that the new school will siphon students from local schools, costing the district state funding.