Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. John Oliver Destroys Underprivileged Students

 

John Oliver Charter SchoolsWe all know John Oliver’s shtick. Each Sunday he goes on HBO to inveigh against some progressive bogeyman — DC lobbyists, big bankers, Donald Drumpf, etc. — replete with out-of-context clips, snarky rebuttals, and lots of F-bombs. And the left-leaning press heralds his brilliance with viral videos insisting he “destroyed,” “eviscerated,” and “disemboweled” his quarry. But last Sunday, he took a break from snarking on the rich and powerful to focus on a new target: kids who attend charter schools.

On the most recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” Oliver took on the 6,000 charter schools in the US and everyone involved with them. (Content warning on that link, natch. When he thinks he’s losing the studio audience, Oliver says a curse word which makes them giggle.) By attacking this popular K-12 option, he isn’t just hitting the few bad operators in the segment, but is setting his sights on the parents, teachers, and students who’ve decided that charter schools are their best option.

Charter schools are public schools that are run by private entities instead of by the government. In exchange for their charter, the state holds them to accountability standards, which, if not met, will result in closure or takeover by the government. Minnesota opened the first charter schools 24 years ago, and the institution has now spread to 43 states and the District of Columbia. Despite their expansion, only about 3 million students are enrolled in charter schools, or less than 6 percent of the K-12 population.

My own state of Arizona enacted the option in the ’90s, and now has charters offering a wide array of specialized education models. There are classical prep schools, traditional schools, STEM- and art-centered options, and many more. My daughters attended a conventional public school through their elementary years, but by junior high had moved on to charter schools, since mom and dad weren’t happy with the government-run schools in our ZIP code.

Wealthy parents have been able to choose their kids’ school forever, but middle-income and lower-income families have only recently gained that ability. According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, 76 percent of US charter school students are non­white, and 39 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced­ price lunch. This presents a massive opportunity for cash-strapped families to educate their children as least as well as the rich families living on the other side of town.

Oliver starts his “evisceration” with a half-hearted disclaimer: “Critics argue charters overstate their successes, siphon off talented students, and divert precious resources within a school district. Now for this piece … we’re going to set aside whether or not charter schools are a good idea in principle.” He then proceeds to single out a handful of the worst-run schools while zealously avoiding the thousands of successes.

Here’s a bad charter school in Florida. And look at this jerk in Ohio! He wants the viewer to extrapolate these nightmare scenarios (all of which were discovered by the state and punished accordingly) into an indictment of all 6,000 schools. His argument, if you can call it that, is basically, “Here’s a bad charter school, therefore all charter schools are bad.” If he was truly interested in not taking a side on whether the model is good or bad, he would have spent at least as much time promoting the good examples.

Oliver also could have rattled off a list of scandals embroiling government-run schools, but his show only lasts 30 minutes. Instead he wants to impugn the inspiring teachers, involved parents, and dedicated students who make up the charter school community.

A multi-millionaire celebrity like John Oliver can send his child to any school he wants. I’m disappointed that he doesn’t want you to have that choice.

There are 23 comments.

  1. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    Well, we can’t have choice. That might drive quality up and price down.

    • #1
    • August 23, 2016, at 4:51 PM PDT
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  2. MACHO GRANDE' (aka - Chri… Coolidge

    Here’s a bad charter school in Florida. And look at this jerk in Ohio! He wants the viewer to extrapolate these nightmare scenarios (all of which were discovered by the state and punished accordingly) into an indictment of all 6,000 schools. His argument, if you can call it that, is basically, “Here’s a bad charter school, therefore all charter schools are bad.” If he was truly interested in not taking a side on whether the model is good or bad, he would have spent at least as much time promoting the good examples.

    And I’m assuming he won’t apply the same logic to public schools, where one bad = all bad.

    Just an assumption. I could be wrong.

    • #2
    • August 23, 2016, at 4:53 PM PDT
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  3. Melissa Praemonitus Member

    Thank you for highlighting this, Jon! As a former homeschool parent, one of my favorite topics is school choice. Few realize that in 1990, homeschooling was illegal in most states, and charters were just a dream. In Michigan, a vigorous homeschool movement led to “uncapping” limits on charters and virtual academies in 2012-2013.

    • #3
    • August 23, 2016, at 5:02 PM PDT
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  4. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Charter schools are school-choice lite. Until parents are free to use their resources to send their kids to the school of their choice, be it public or private, then there is no educational freedom.

    • #4
    • August 23, 2016, at 5:25 PM PDT
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  5. Profile Photo Member

    I sure love listening to British and other Europeans criticize American life.

    Boy, nothing like getting a lecture from my Norwegian buddy about our callous immigration policies. I usually nod a few times and then ask “And what exactly happened to all the Romani never heard from again that Norway rounded up?

    “Gypsies are different.” Oh I see.

    • #5
    • August 23, 2016, at 5:30 PM PDT
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  6. Seawriter Member

    If underprivileged kids get an education they might grow up not needing to vote for Democrats. Cannot have that. Priorities, after all.

    Seawriter

    • #6
    • August 23, 2016, at 5:35 PM PDT
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  7. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The only choice Progs support is whether to have a chemical or suction abortion.

    • #7
    • August 23, 2016, at 6:00 PM PDT
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  8. Ward Robles Member

    In right-to-work Alabama the high school graduation rate for whites is 88%, for blacks is 84%, for hispanics is 85%. In public-employee-union-run California the high school graduation rate for whites: 88%, for blacks is a soul-sucking 68%, for hispanics is 77%. Alabama is just getting charter schools, California has had them for decades and has shown steady improvement. What has Alabama been doing all these years?

    • #8
    • August 23, 2016, at 6:03 PM PDT
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  9. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Why is Oliver here again? Didn’t have enough talent for a government job with the Beeb?

    • #9
    • August 23, 2016, at 6:03 PM PDT
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  10. Quake Voter Inactive

    Is there an issue — an essential culture defining issue — on which the liberal luvvie set in both the US and the UK are more nakedly and preposterously hypocritical?

    Yet they pull it off every time, which demonstrates the confidence and elan of softheaded liberalism.

    Honestly, if we can’t defend this flag against them it’s Appomattox.

    • #10
    • August 23, 2016, at 6:05 PM PDT
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  11. FightinInPhilly Thatcher

    Oliver is like any hatchet man. When he’s your hatchet man on your topic, you love him. My wife (public school teacher/administrator) watched (and loved) his takedown of Common Core a dozen times.

    • #11
    • August 23, 2016, at 6:20 PM PDT
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  12. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    Here is what I know from my hometown of Asbury Park, NJ.

    It’s an economically very poor town with a majority black population, but surrounded by (and was the sending district for) 7 richer white towns for nearly 100 years. The school was therefore naturally integrated by race, socio-economic status, etc. Also, there were some great kids, some discipline problems and some kids with special needs. There were over 1,000 students. There was more racial fear by parents of both colors than actual racial tension among the students.

    In 1996 the NJ Commissioner of Education decided that another public high school 8 miles away had a better music program, so anyone who wanted to go there could go. Coincidently, nearly ALL the kids from the rich white towns decided to major in oboe (I’m being sarcastic), and even more coincidentally, were accepted to that school. The government supplied the buses. The Asbury Park kids stayed behind.

    The government literally racially segregated the schools, but since liberal activists who cared for people like RFK and MLK are dead and replaced with liberal activists who care about plants and bears, no one complained of the de-facto segregation and illegality of it.

    The school then being nearly all poor and black didn’t mean that it didn’t have its share of kids who were exceptionally bright and well behaved poor black kids. It did. But they also had to put up with many who were challenging in discipline and academic areas from some of the toughest streets in New Jersey, as they were now the majority of the school.

    So a charter school opened and siphoned off the best and the brightest from the High School. It left behind just the most challenging student population in the state.

    Why did no one complain? Here’s why: When Asbury Park was left with the poorest of the poor and the most kids with needs, suddenly MASSIVE amounts of government money poured in. So who is going to complain? The ones who left? The ones who are still there getting all that money? This system has no natural enemy.

    Asbury Park High School now graduates about 80 kids. They spend over $33,000 per student each year, almost all of it coming from State and US coffers.

    They just built a beautiful million dollar turf football field.

    And that’s what I know.

    • #12
    • August 23, 2016, at 6:38 PM PDT
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  13. Marion Evans Inactive

    I don’t watch Oliver, Stewart, Colbert, SNL etc. Most political comedy is a con game.

    • #13
    • August 23, 2016, at 7:42 PM PDT
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  14. David Deeble Member

    OUT: Point-Counterpoint; IN: Liberal Eviscerates Conservatives In Front Of Coached, Fawning Audience

    • #14
    • August 23, 2016, at 9:34 PM PDT
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  15. Profile Photo Member

    Tommy De Seno:Here is what I know from my hometown of Asbury Park, NJ.

    It’s an economically very poor town with a majority black population, but surrounded by (and was the sending district for) 7 richer white towns for nearly 100 years. The school was therefore naturally integrated by race, socio-economic status, etc. Also, there were some great kids, some discipline problems and some kids with special needs. There were over 1,000 students. There was more racial fear by parents of both colors than actual racial tension among the students.

    In 1996 the NJ Commissioner of Education decided that another public high school 8 miles away had a better music program, so anyone who wanted to go there could go. Coincidently, nearly ALL the kids from the rich white towns decided to major in oboe (I’m being sarcastic), and even more coincidentally, were accepted to that school. The government supplied the buses. The Asbury Park kids stayed behind.

    The government literally racially segregated the schools, but since liberal activists who cared for people like RFK and MLK are dead and replaced with liberal activists who care about plants and bears, no one complained of the de-facto segregation and illegality of it.

    Im going to divorce my wife and marry this post.

    • #15
    • August 23, 2016, at 11:06 PM PDT
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  16. Knotwise the Poet Member

    Tommy De Seno:

    In 1996 the NJ Commissioner of Education decided that another public high school 8 miles away had a better music program, so anyone who wanted to go there could go. Coincidently, nearly ALL the kids from the rich white towns decided to major in oboe (I’m being sarcastic), and even more coincidentally, were accepted to that school. The government supplied the buses. The Asbury Park kids stayed behind.

    The government literally racially segregated the schools, but since liberal activists who cared for people like RFK and MLK are dead and replaced with liberal activists who care about plants and bears, no one complained of the de-facto segregation and illegality of it.

    Did the government “literally” racially segregate the schools, or did they grant more choices to the local folk, and the people, exercising their own free choice, decide to racially segregate themselves? You did say that anyone who wanted to go to the other public high school could go, correct? Were there a lot of poor Asbury Park kids who applied but were rejected?

    I’m not saying the outcome was ideal, but I also don’t think the government should be accused of racial segregation just because they’re not forcing certain parents to send their kids to certain schools.

    • #16
    • August 23, 2016, at 11:27 PM PDT
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  17. Podkayne of Israel Member

    “[S]iphon off talented students” because the Left always sees individual human beings as a glop of undifferentiated goo that the government needs to channel as it sees fit.

    This absolutely enrages me, as it has since I was six.

    • #17
    • August 24, 2016, at 12:54 AM PDT
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  18. Michael Brehm Member

    Geoff: “Gypsies are different.”

    I believe that is actually the EU’s unofficial motto.

    • #18
    • August 24, 2016, at 5:17 AM PDT
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  19. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    Knotwise the Poet:

    Tommy De Seno:

    In 1996 the NJ Commissioner of Education decided that another public high school 8 miles away had a better music program, so anyone who wanted to go there could go. Coincidently, nearly ALL the kids from the rich white towns decided to major in oboe (I’m being sarcastic), and even more coincidentally, were accepted to that school. The government supplied the buses. The Asbury Park kids stayed behind.

    The government literally racially segregated the schools, but since liberal activists who cared for people like RFK and MLK are dead and replaced with liberal activists who care about plants and bears, no one complained of the de-facto segregation and illegality of it.

    Did the government “literally” racially segregate the schools, or did they grant more choices to the local folk, and the people, exercising their own free choice, decide to racially segregate themselves? You did say that anyone who wanted to go to the other public high school could go, correct? Were there a lot of poor Asbury Park kids who applied but were rejected?

    I’m not saying the outcome was ideal, but I also don’t think the government should be accused of racial segregation just because they’re not forcing certain parents to send their kids to certain schools.

    I used the word “de-facto” segregation because in fact, regardless of intention, the result was to take all the white kids out of the school (with lots of government money to pay for the buses) leaving behind a school that had been naturally integrated by geography, now segregated by government action.

    Before this happened there were tensions among the sending districts who didn’t want their kids in Asbury. In one town there was a lottery – the old joke was the winners went south to a public high school in Manasquan. The losers went to St. Rose Catholic High School (to avoid Asbury Park). I’m good with that. Use your money to send you kid to any private school you like.

    Once this decision came out about the music program in a public high school 8 miles to the north, the students had to audition for acceptance.

    Damn near every white kid from the sending districts got in. The black kids from Asbury would qualify a few tokens (excuse the double entendre).

    If you go to the Asbury Park High school and look at the class photos before 1997, it was racially integrated (by natural geography). Look at the photos after 1997, and it looks like aliens kidnapped all the white kids. The black kids aren’t stupid enough to not know their school was suddenly segregated.

    I’ve always fantasized about a public interest lawsuit challenging the DOE ruling that allowed this racial segregation. I’m certain I’d find this wasn’t just de-facto segregation, rather de jure segregation by government. I just don’t have the time. Liberal activists, who in the 1960’s would have been parachuting in to fight racial segregation, are busy with a 1.6 degree rise in global temperature in the last century, so I hear.

    • #19
    • August 24, 2016, at 7:51 AM PDT
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  20. Ambrianne Member

    I’m not a fan of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, but in response to Oliver someone there pointed out at least charters bury their dead. When’s the last time a failing and/or corrupt regular public school was shut down?

    Personally, I think parental choice first, last and always. If the building is safe and the staff passes background checks, if parents choose a school it should stay open. A system like that couldn’t be any worse than what we have now and it might be better.

    • #20
    • August 24, 2016, at 8:02 AM PDT
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  21. Seawriter Member

    Briana LeClaire: When’s the last time a failing and/or corrupt regular public school was shut down?

    The State of Texas shut down the La Marque Independent School District in Galveston County this year for poor performance, giving the schools and students to the neighboring Texas City ISD. But:

    1. It was Texas.
    2. It took the state over four years to do this.

    Seawriter

    • #21
    • August 24, 2016, at 8:24 AM PDT
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  22. Johnny Dubya Inactive

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the proportion of charter schools that are bad is significantly smaller than the proportion of public schools that are bad.

    That would be an inconvenient truth for Mr. Oliver and his “argument”, wouldn’t it?

    His attack on charter schools is akin to doing a show on specific disastrous and embarrassing mechanical failures of a particular model of car, without mentioning that the model has far fewer failures than the average car. What, then, is the point? Oh, right: The car in question is made in a non-union factory. Therefore, it must be attacked.

    The political and policy ridicule that is a feature of these “comedy” shows is much like the ridicule put forth by communist regimes of days gone by. Lies and half-truths to delegitimize the target.

    • #22
    • August 24, 2016, at 11:47 AM PDT
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  23. VRWC Member

    And of course Oliver fails to recognize one of the most important features of charter schools…. the bad ones go away, whereas lousy public schools are immortal.

    • #23
    • August 24, 2016, at 2:14 PM PDT
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