Giving Compass' Take:

• In this piece, The 74's Laura McKenna interviews ex-Newark mayor and current Senator Cory Booker about his legacy of education reform in Newark.

• Philanthropists played a major role in enabling Booker to pursue education reform. How could Newark's reform be duplicated in other places with struggling education systems?

• To learn about how charter schools are trying to recruit business leaders to become principals, click here.

The 74: Right now, the popular perception of school reform in Newark is that it was a failure. Can you tell us what happened?

Booker: I’ve never seen such a disconnect between a popular understanding and the data … if I went back in time and sat down with people and said, OK, we’re about to endeavor into something that’s going to raise graduation rates 20 percent ... that an African-American kid’s chances of going to a high-performing school that beats the suburbs will go up 300 percent ... the University of Washington would rank us as a No. 1 school system in America ... I promise you that if I told people we would accomplish that in eight years, everybody would said that’s impossible to achieve.

Would you say the three biggest parts of your reform were supporting charter schools, closing the low-performing schools wherever they are, and listening to teachers?

I would say the last one is probably the most important. You’ve got to get a high-performing teacher in every classroom. I don’t care what context that’s in, whether the high-performing teacher’s in a charter school, magnet school, district school, special ed school. The most important thing is having a great teacher in that classroom, and that’s why I have to say the teachers union, as much as they may have outwardly talked a lot of controversy there, the teachers union at the negotiating table landed on a really good contract. And the tens of millions of dollars of our philanthropy helped to pay teachers, quality teachers. Remember, the majority of the money didn’t go to charter schools. Some money did, but the majority of money went to teachers.

Read the full interview about education reform by Laura McKenna at The 74