Monday, August 22, 2016

John Oliver hysterically savages charter schools — and charter supporters aren’t happy - The Washington Post

John Oliver hysterically savages charter schools — and charter supporters aren’t happy - The Washington Post:

John Oliver hysterically savages charter schools — and charter supporters aren’t happy

In September 2015,  John Oliver did a hilarious segment on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” skewering the country’s obsession with standardized testing. He’s done it again, this time with a back-to-school segment blasting some charter schools (see transcript below).
In his new segment broadcast Aug. 21, Oliver says that he is not going to address whether or not charters are a good idea, but takes a serious yet sadly funny look at charters that are terribly — and sometimes criminally — operated.
The overall message is that the charter school movement — backed by Democrats and Republicans alike, President Obama and former president George W. Bush — has been allowed to flourish over the last 25 years without anywhere near enough oversight and that ultimately, kids are getting hurt.
Oliver lets charter supporters talk for themselves in video clips interspersed throughout, such as when Ohio Gov. John Kasich talks about how he wants to run public schools like pizza shops. And then Oliver savages the notion that public education would improve if it were operated like a business in an unprecedented way on a popular television show.
Kasich said:
We will improve the public schools if there’s a sense of competition. Just like a pizza shop in the town, if there’s only one and there’s not much pepperoni on it, you can call ‘til you’re blue in the face. But the best way to get more pepperoni on that pizza is to open up a second pizza shop, and that’s what’s going to improve our public schools.
Oliver commented:
Okay, okay, that doesn’t work on any level. First, no one has ever called it a pizza shop. Second, it’s a little hard to hear the man who just defunded Planned Parenthood talk about the importance of choice. Third, there’s such a thing as paying for extra pepperoni like a normal person. And finally the notion that the more pizza shops there are the better pizza becomes is effectively undercut by the two words: Papa John’s. But Ohio’s charters have had huge problems with lack of oversight. A review of one year’s state audits found charters misspent public money nearly four times more often than any other form of taxpayer-funded agency …
The problem with letting the free market decide when it comes to kids is that kids change faster than the market. And by the time it’s obvious the school is failing, futures may have been ruined.
Naturally, charter supporters were shaken by the segment — and some actually issued statements about it. The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools issued a release Monday that tried to minimize the impact of Oliver’s message. It said:
“The August 21 episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver examined the critical importance of strong charter school authorizers and laws. The program began by spotlighting one of the thousands of high-performing charter schools that are opening doors of opportunity for students – especially those living in low-income communities. High-quality charter schools like these are the norm, giving families access to local, public, and effective educational options in communities where traditional district schools aren’t meeting the needs of students.
“Most of the program focused on charter schools in three states that were engaged in practices that were either questionable or unethical. These practices are unacceptable, but are not representative of charter schools nationwide. Furthermore, many of the examples featured are years-to-decades old, and fail to reflect the significant progress that the charter school movement has made in the areas of oversight and accountability.
“To be clear, anyone who is not in education for the betterment of students has no right to be in education. But these select examples should not tarnish the good work being done by dedicated charter school educators across 43 states and Washington, DC. At the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, we are strong advocates for policies and laws that both hold charter schools accountable and allow great charter schools to open and flourish. We take seriously the issues raised by Last Week Tonight, and we will continue our work to strengthen charter school oversight in areas that are falling short.”
Here’s the transcript of nearly all of the segment. I have italicized the words that come from John Oliver hysterically savages charter schools — and charter supporters aren’t happy - The Washington Post:

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