Well, 26-year-old facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark now has a name: “Start Up Education Foundation”. The Oprah Winfrey program that airs live in Chicago at 10am their time has now just ended, though New Jerseyans won’t see the broadcast until 4pm today, on ABC.
We do know – because Star-Ledger sent reporters to Chicago to watch in real time – that there was a standing O in Oprah’s audience (they are given to standing ovations, and tears, for what it’s worth). And that US Education Commission Arne Duncan (last read about as the recipient of messages in NJ’s bungled Race to the Top application) called in and said, “I’m really proud of these guys,” and that he was talking about both Cory Booker and Chris Christie. Though, it’s hard to grasp what, outside of political opportunism, put Christie on Oprah’s stage, on her air, and in Commissioner Duncan’s good wishes. This gift is so obviously Zuckerberg’s statement of faith in Booker, and Booker’s Newark, that I’m not sure how Christie deserves the spotlight. But then, I haven’t seen the show yet.
Zuckerberg distanced himself from any talk that his timing was set to misdirect attention from The Social Network, a feature film opening next week about how he stole facebook from his Harvard classmates. I think the timing is more likely related to the release (today) of the pro-charter Waiting for Superman, which positions charter schools as the savior of urban minority kids. And of course, the political troubles both Booker and Christie leave behind at home this week.
The Oprah Show, which flashes on Garden State screens in just a few hours, features the Oprah-adulation of Booker you expect (she’s given millions herself to Booker’s Newark), but also features a warm hug from herself to the Governor. Makes me wonder if her people prepped her to understand that while we’re talking $100 million, he just pulled a $400 million dollar rug out from the rest of New Jersey’s kids.