Until I read the details of the plan, briefly explained by the couple in the editorial pages of the Mercury News. It basically centers its premises in the belief that if we help close the digital divide between the haves and the have nots, we will finally put impoverished children on their way to higher test scores.
I am still hoping that given the fact that Priscilla is a pediatrician, she will convince her husband that they should invest their well meant gift in combating what Harvard's Center on the Developing Child identifies as the main source of failure for many of the nation's children: [Toxic Stress http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/key_concepts/toxic_stress_response/
Harvard being both Zuckerberg and Priscilla's alma mater, I am counting on this fact too, in my hope that they will take an interest in the subject.
Toxic stress is something that plenty of kids on this side of the highway endure in varied forms from the time they arrive in the world. Particularly in this area of the country where the economic divide is so stark, that even neighboring countries would have a hard time depicting it so clearly.
As with other social investments we have seen going nowhere, the solution to major problems and disparities are again being identified as the need to "close the digital divide". We forget that even though never before there were so many different electronic devices at the disposal of virtually everyone, poor children's academic performance continues to rank at the bottom. For all children, but especially those who grow up in poverty, there is a direct correlation between the time spent on electronic media, and academic underperformance (let alone its negative effects on social and physical development).
No matter how many studies have shown that it is less screen time--not more--that children need to develop well and learn, the push continues to be for the promotion of more electronic devices, often through school.
What overworked teachers need to help children learn is not more computers in their classrooms, but other human beings assisting them in person. Here is where funding could really make a difference. Funds to develop a curriculum with more non-competitive play and physical activities would achieve much more and in more areas, than giving schools more money to spend on getting wired.
In this community, a fraction of those 120 million dollars would take us a lot further if it got invested in promoting the social and emotional development of children. In no small part by raising parents' understanding of the importance of reducing the toxic stress in their families, (i.e. through the elimination of physical and emotional abuse, and neglect). Once empowered by knowledge, parents would realize that in spite of the obscene economic inequalities around them, they hold a bigger piece of the puzzle in their children's lives, than they ever knew they did.
Even if we did a good job at getting more parents on this path, not much will change if we don't invest in strengthening and supporting families through practical support.
We need to intervene long before a difficult situation becomes a crisis, and a chronic crisis dooms the future of a child. Training school staff to better understand the factors affecting a child's performance--and a mechanism to intervene in ways that don't stigmitize parents, but instead get them the support they need to improve their parenting--would be money well invested.