If you are going to save a terrible, dysfunctional school system, then you are not going to do it from the couch of Oprah Winfrey. You are not going to be liked. You are going to be hated. You will not be viewed as a savior. You will probably be pelted with much the same detritus that Carly Fiorina was recently bombarded. You will have to go hard against the perceived short-term interest of the people. This was not the path that Governor Chris Christie, [mc_name name=’Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’B001288′ ] and Rich Dude Mark Zuckerberg were in any way interested in following.
Dean Russakoff tells an enraging story of what happens to the least fortunate in America when competing groups of intellectuals and spoilsmen have a tug of war over some important aspect of their lives.
Russakoff paints a damning portrait of arrogant reformers who thought they could impose their vision on Newark, ignoring the aspirations and wisdom of talented local residents. It was telling that the people of Newark found out about Zuckerberg’s pledge from a national TV show. But many opponents of reform come off just as badly in The Prize. Russakoff’s title refers to the way anti-reform politicians used the Newark schools as a patronage prize, the way reformers used their dysfunction as an opportunity to prove their theories—and the way the real prize, inner-city children and their futures, has gotten lost in the crossfire.
National Review founder William F. Buckley had a rather savage but telling description of Eleanor Roosevelt’s mindset. He remarked that she viewed most of the world as her own personal slum project. This mindset is popular among the moneyed Left. It is particularly popular amongst the nouveau riche who wish to either assuage their false consciousness or buy a thoroughly undeserved passel of positive press and public adulation. Occasionally, you’ll even meet one or two wealthy suckers who believe guys like Governor Christie and Senator Booker are in it for the betterment of mankind. Perhaps their truly is a bit of a pigeon in every confidence man.
Yet now $100M has been run through the Newark municipal government and gone where used food typically goes. The schools remain predictably awful and Mark Zuckerberg has been posterized as they say in the NBA. Cory Booker and Chris Christie continued to steam forward with their respective careers. Each continues to advance higher in his respective political cartel.
Short of establishing subinfeudation as a national policy for handling the poor and uneducated, three big-shots are not going to swoop in on eagles like Gandalf the Grey and save the wretched and rotting metropolitan areas of the declining American Empire. There simply isn’t a lever that some Optimate can push to save people who won’t save themselves. The Bat Signal won’t be visible through the air pollution above Gotham City.
Newark will have to look to its own salvation. More importantly, the parents of young children therein will have to look after their offspring. Paternalistic and condescending Liberalism, even when steeped in the sacred juice of bipartisanship, cannot fix the stupidity of the uncaring man. The pessimistic Herbert Spencer measured the sad but true lay of the land here. He famously remarked. “The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools.”
Zuckerberg will walk away from the encounter saddened but wiser. He will not be a big enough fool to be parted from his money. Booker and Christie have no reason to complain. They gained positive press as they were adored by The Oprah. It wasn’t their money at stake and Newark started from the bottom. Nobody can claim that they managed to make Gahanna any worse. Plus, the important people just love them because they tried.
And the people of Newark, New Jersey will be consulted about as meaningfully as were the populations of Sodom and Gomorrah before the meteor strikes rained upon the cities of the Jordan River Valley. Their lives don’t matter. They are someone else’s slum project. Fixing their schools and offering them any real hope of a more positive outcome would cause them to get awful uppity. Neither Chris Christie nor Cory Booker would ever countenance that.