In this July 9, 2011, file photo, Mark Zuckerberg, president and CEO of Facebook, walks to morning sessions with his then girlfriend Priscilla Chan during the 2011 Allen and Co. Sun Valley Conference, in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have given their second major education-oriented donation with a $120 million pledge for poor school districts in the San Francisco and San Jose areas.
The Zuckerbergs announced the gift in a column they co-wrote in The San Jose Mercury News, which was published Thursday evening.
"The world's most innovative community shouldn't also be a home for struggling public schools," it reads.
The gift follows on the heels of a $100 million donationfrom Zuckerberg in 2010 to Newark's struggling public schoolsThe gift follows on the heels of a $100 million donation from Zuckerberg in 2010 to Newark's struggling public schools through a foundation called Startup: Education.
"In Newark, a lot of the work we started is still under way, but we've already seen some good results. Newark now has the leading teacher contract in the country that was developed with teachers to reward good performance," Zuckerberg and Chan wrote in Thursday's column.
The announcement comes just more than a week after an article in The New Yorker by Dale Rusakoff took a hard look at the Newark donation, the school system and the issues surrounding education reform.
Rusakoff's story highlights the struggles of a school system for which money is only part of the battle. He also noted that the couple had not yet followed on future donations that they had promised.
"Almost all of Zuckerberg’s hundred million dollars has been spent or committed. He and Chan gave almost a billion dollars to a Silicon Valley foundation to go toward unspecified future gifts, but they have not proceeded with reforms in other school districts, as originally planned," Rusakoff wrote.
He also noted that the existing school system tended to soak up much of its budget with consultants and administrative costs.
"In fact, there was a pot of gold, but much of it wasn’t reaching students. That was the reformers’ main argument against the wasteful administrations of urban schools," Rusakoff wrote.
Zuckerberg has made education his second passion projectZuckerberg has made education his second passion project behind efforts to bring Internet connectivity to the entire world. He recently told Wired that he has beenteaching a weekly middle school class on entrepreneurship; Chan taught grade school after graduating from Harvard and is now a doctor pursuing pediatrics.
Zuckerberg and Chan pointed to the struggles of schools near Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters in California as a reason for the focused donation.
"Last year in the Ravenswood School District, less than 40% of students were proficient on state tests in English language arts and less than 50% in math. This means fewer students from low-income and minority backgrounds graduating from high school or attending and succeeding in college," they wrote.
The $120 million will be filtered through Startup: Education over the next five years and focused on two goals: giving families more choices in education and working with teachers and leaders on the ground to best address student needs. The first money will focus on "computers and connectivity"
"Today's announcement is just a small step toward the change we need to achieve in our community and our country, but it's another step in a journey we expect to spend the rest of our lives on," they wrote.