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The announcement comes a week before “The Social Network” opens widely. The movie, whose tagline is “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies,” portrays Zuckerberg as taking the idea for Facebook from other Harvard students.

“I hate to be cynical and there are few districts in the nation that couldn’t use an infusion of cash more than Newark,” wrote blogger Christopher Dawson on ZDNet. But the timing of the announcement, “on Oprah no less, feels a little too staged.” on Thursday asked readers: “Was the gift heartfelt or cunning PR?”

For Christie, the deal may be a way to recover from the biggest misstep of his administration so far: Last month, the state missed out on a $400 million federal education grant because of a simple error on its application. Christie fired the state’s education commissioner in the aftermath.

The donation also sets the stage for Christie’s plans to announce statewide education reforms next week.


Mulvihill reported from Trenton. Also contributing were Associated Press writers Beth DeFalco in Trenton and Donna Blankinship in Seattle and Technology Writer Barbara Ortutay in New York.