The Associated Press reports that the first use of the $100 donation to Newark schools by Mark Zukerberg will be to send our canvassers to:
…to reach out to parents of schoolchildren to find out what’s working and what isn’t. [Newark Mayor] Booker says that over the next two months canvassers will knock on doors and make phone calls. Billboards and ads on city buses will augment the effort.
I have serious reservations about how some foundations are getting involved in education (see Private Foundations Have a Place (& Have To Be Kept In Their Place). And this report reinforces those concerns.
It’s great that they recognized the importance of speaking to parents. However — and I recognize that the AP article is short and I don’t have all the details on what they’re planning — but just sending out canvassers who have no relationship with the people they’re visiting and knocking on doors without making an appointment is the worst form of what is often called “slash and burn” community organizing. It can provide the illusion of two-way “conversation” but, in fact, just be a form of one-way “communication.” It can allow those who are organizing it to say they are just doing what the people want done, without really involving anyone other than the parents who agree with them. It is not the way any effective organizer would go about building long-term engagement.
I hope I’m wrong, and, again, I need to learn more about their plans. But the description raises red flags.
Here’s another article on the effort — again, short on details.