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The Prize : Who's in Charge of America's Schools?
by Dale Russakoff


Overview - A New York Times Bestseller


Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Christie, and Cory Booker were ready to reform our failing schools. They got an education.

When Mark Zuckerberg announced to a cheering Oprah audience his $100 million pledge to transform the downtrodden schools of Newark, New Jersey, then mayor Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie were beside him, vowing to help make Newark a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation.
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More About The Prize by Dale Russakoff
 
 
 
Overview
A New York Times Bestseller


Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Christie, and Cory Booker were ready to reform our failing schools. They got an education.

When Mark Zuckerberg announced to a cheeringOprahaudience his $100 million pledge to transform the downtrodden schools of Newark, New Jersey, then mayor Cory Booker and Governor Chris Christie were beside him, vowing to help make Newark a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation. But their plans soon ran into the city s seasoned education players, fierce protectors of their billion-dollar-a-year system. It s a prize that, for generations, has enriched seemingly everyone, except Newark s children.

Dale Russakoff delivers a riveting drama of our times, encompassing the rise of celebrity politics, big philanthropy, extreme economic inequality, the charter school movement, and the struggles and triumphs of schools in one of the nation s poorest cities. As Cory Booker navigates between his status as rock star mayor on Oprah s stage and object of considerable distrust at home, thetumultuous changes planned by reformers and their highly paid consultants spark a fiery grass-roots opposition stoked by local politicians and union leaders. The growth of charters forces the hand of Newark s school superintendent Cami Anderson, who closes, consolidates, or redesigns more than a third of the city s schools a scenario on the horizon for many urban districts across America.
Russakoff provides a close-up view of twenty-six-year-old Mark Zuckerberg and his wife as they decide to give the immense sum of money to Newark and then experience an education of their own amid the fallout of the reforms. Most moving are Russakoff s portraits from inside classrooms, as homegrown teachers and principals battle heroically to reach students damaged by extreme poverty and violence.

The Prize is an absorbing portrait of a titanic struggle, indispensable for anyone who cares about the future of public education and the nation s children.

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Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780547840055
  • ISBN-10: 0547840055
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
  • Publish Date: September 2015
  • Page Count: 256


Related Categories

Books > Education > Educational Policy & Reform
Books > Political Science > Public Policy - Social Policy
Books > History > United States - State & Local - Middle Atlantic

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-06-08
  • Reviewer: Staff

Washington Post reporter Russakoff’s fascinating study of the struggle to reform the Newark school system reveals the inner workings of a wide range of systemic and grassroots problems (charter schools, testing, accountability, private donors) plaguing education reform today. In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to help transform the schools of Newark, N.J., and create a national model of education reform. The move immediately sparked a series of competing political and social decisions for Mayor Cory Booker and Gov. Chris Christie. Russakoff sets up the struggle to control the schools with a big-money, top-down approach on one side and a teacher-based, student-by-student, bottom-up approach on the other. Her investigation shows how the powerful Booker-Christie-Zuckerberg triumvirate struggled to truly engage the community and ultimately failed to overcome the mighty Newark political machine. Russakoff accurately depicts individual teachers working in neighborhood schools and parents and staff in the charter system, including through their own words. She also tracks the progress of a student as he struggles to navigate the daily challenges presented by Newark’s school reforms. Booker’s mayoral successor, Ras Baraka, emerges as the anti-Booker, and Newark school superintendent Cami Anderson is left making the toughest of choices. Russakoff’s eagle-eyed view of the current state of the public education system in Newark and the United States is one of the finest education surveys in recent memory. Agent: Joëlle Delbourgo, Joëlle Delbourgo Associates. (Sept.)

 
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