Tuesday, August 23, 2016

John Oliver takes on charter schools.

Courtesy of The Inquirer:

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver turned his attention to charter schools and their shortcomings on Sunday night, using Pennsylvania laws and Philadelphia schools as examples of why he believes the institutions are something of gamble when it comes to education. 

“Charter schools unite both sides of the aisle more quickly than when a wedding DJ throws on ‘Hey Ya,’ ” Oliver said to kick off his piece, further noting that the first charters emerged 25 years ago as a way to explore new approaches to education. 

Now, about 6,700 such schools exist in the United States. But, as Oliver pointed out Sunday, “around the country, there have been charter schools so flawed, they don’t make it through the school year.”

It is certainly no secret here that I have absolutely no use for charter schools, and believe that if that money were kept in local school districts that public education could be vastly improved.

Interestingly enough Oliver did not bother to get into comparisons of which is better, charter schools or public schools, and instead just dives into the problems with charter school themselves.

Which as it turns out is pretty damning.


  1. Anonymous5:48 AM

    I too believe that Charter Schools are undermining our public school system.
    In my experience the parents who choose Charter Schools are looking for a private school type education on the public's nickel. They want all the goodies that private schools offer like art, music, gardens etc (and who doesn't) but because they pay teachers less than public schools often times they have the "extras" but the core academics suffer.
    But where Charter Schools really hurt public schools is in parent participation. In my school district (Santa Ana Ca which has a lot of immigrants) the Charter schools have taken away all the "leader" parents, the ones who used to run the PTA's and went to the school board meetings and held the district accountable. Instead of staying and improving their local schools a lot of these parents now put all their time and energy into a charter school. This has really hurt the public schools, robbing them of valuable mentors, those with connections and those with executive skills in organizing and getting things done.
    This may not seem that important on the surface but a group of determined and organized parents can hold a school or even a school district's feet to the fire and make demands and changes.
    In a primarily lower income and immigrant town like mine, many parents either don't have the time or the skill set or feel they have the power to make demands to change things. Those parents who would've been there organizing and mentoring a new generation of leaders have peeled off to the charter schools.
    It's a vicious cycle. Everyone wants the best for their kid, but sometimes what's best for your kid is what's best for all kids. Stay and work and improve your public school!

    1. I totally support your comments!

  2. Anonymous5:59 AM

    He is brilliant !

    And his trump segment was perfection LOL

  3. Anonymous6:17 AM

    5:48 AM You are right on!

    Homeschooling by inept parents and friends is as damaging as the charter schools. It is painful to read the right wing comments on the internet - many don't make sense, words misspelled, information is bogus, hatred is the focus and the pieces lack substance.

    Where were these folks schooled? Since they are right wing I suspect they did not attend, or at least did not achieve much in a public school system.

    If the students do not have to learn to spell, construct a sentence, and don't need math since calculators abound how were their school years spent?

    1. Anonymous7:50 AM

      You are right, homeschooling is a lot worse. Very few parents have the capacity and know-how to be both a teacher and a parent and do it well.
      Furthermore, they rob the child of social interactions with their peers (although some homeschoolers do mitigate that with group activities) but most importantly they take away the experience of learning from different teachers. Think about all the different life experiences, stories and styles of teaching each teacher brings to the classroom, that can never be replaced especially by online learning ... the worst of the worst.
      Just learning to deal with different personalities is in itself a life skill that many homeschoolers miss out on.

      I do think that online homeschooling (like Bristol and Levi supposedly did) does such a disservice to kids that it should be banned for all except in the rarest of circumstances. Just regurgitating information is not the same as learning and computers can NEVER replace teachers.

    2. Anonymous7:14 PM

      You know very little about good homeschooling yet you feel equipped to expound. Homeschooling does not mean a lack of diversity in teachers. My kids had music teachers and, art calsses, theatre classes and various sports coaches as well as two teaching parents. not to mention all the family frieds who told stories. Teachers don't have time for that, and many do not share personal experiences. Homeschooled kids get more real interaction with people of all ages , not just their age cohort.so eff off on dissing homeschooling.

      Now your comments on online learning = spot-on.

  4. Anonymous7:13 AM

    When we live charter schools are big with black people. Our mayor went to one and a college president did as well.

  5. Anonymous7:45 AM

    I love my kids charter school. It looks like I've got one with a good chance to UC Davis in the Fall and my younger is eyeing Berkeley. Top notch education, expeditionary school, camping, survival skills, they even work on local environmental issues. Very LGBT friendly, we live in a very red state area in NorCal, our school has several LGBT students and a couple that are transitioning, I cannot imagine how miserable their lives would be in our shit public schools. The public high school in my area? Full of abusive jocks going nowhere in life, they beat a LGBT boy severely a few years ago and got away with a slap on the wrist. If a school is unable/unwilling to protect all of the students, they deserve to lose public funding. I would never expose my kids to that kind of bullshit.

  6. Maple8:09 AM

    Oliver's show was a real eye-opener to me! Allowing for-profit companies to operate schools funded by taxpayer money is a sure prescription for corruption, much the way corporate-owned prisons are. And you can be sure that if the Republicans have their way, your Social Security will be privatized and the results - pending the ups and downs of the stock market -- will be devastating. You've already had the experience of your healthcare system given over to private hospitals, clinics and the insurance companies -- despite the ACA.

  7. Anonymous9:40 AM

    Gryphen, I am with you 100% on Charter Schools! For others who are unfamiliar with what is going on with the majority of Charter Schools, here is a great article:


    Everyone can form their own opinion but mine is that Wall Street is getting public funds, little oversight, with profit the name of the game.

  8. Anonymous11:32 AM

    I don't know about other states. My kids go to a charter school in Alaska. They are 100% public schools, staffed by school district teachers and employees. There is no private or for profit company involved. The district gets the exact same money per student from the state as they would if the kids were in more traditional schools. The only difference is that there is less direct control from the central district office because they have a direct charter with the school board.

    1. Anonymous7:17 PM

      Who is they? I think you are missing how charter. Work. Which charter? Many have been bought out by Pearson Ed so they can sell their Ed materials directly to their schools.especially the online charters. Connections is one.

  9. Anonymous4:35 PM

    He did an OK job in the short time he had. But there is a lot more to it not just in corruption but how money is siphoned away from public schools, how after charters have the money they expel any trouble makers, low scorers or special needs students, thus putting even more strain on the public schools. Some charters cherry pick, thus siphoning off the high scorers from the public schools. Charters don't vet teachers nor have the same legal mandates for something as basic as building safety so you could have a teacher with no degree or credential teaching in a subject they are not qualified in and buildings that are not earthquake safe.

    I notice he didn't mention that Obama and his minion Arne Duncan pushed and promoted Charter Schools. Of all the things Obama is, an education expert he is not. He didn't promote an education expert for Sect. of Ed. and he didn't promote a scientist or an environmentalist for interior. Instead we got Ken "Frack until it bleeds" Salazar who is also for TPP and I think the XL Pipeline too. And guess what? Salazar was the first lackey Clinton named on her transition team.

    She'll be swinging back to the right and big business right after she's elected. The party policy will be so much toilet paper to be flushed down the loo, showing she really doesn't care what the voters want after she's gotten their votes.

    1. Anonymous7:18 PM

      That's a we take with any pol. Wait and see.

    2. Anonymous8:26 PM

      Teacher's nationally overwhelmingly voted a no confidence in Arne Duncan and all Obama did during his second term was double down on Arne.

      Now it's John King Jr giving us more of the same. Follow the money: King is married to Melissa Steel King, an associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners. Bellwether is associated with the Gates Foundation and Eli Broad, two red flags with teachers. (Oh, look. The George W. Bush Institute. Yeah, that sure sounds like high quality learning right there.) Gee, didn't Oliver specifically mention KIPP? Dell. Microsoft. TEACH FOR AMERICA! The Walton Family, another big name for higher education standards (LOL). Michelle Rhee and Stand for Children. Anyone remember them? It's the who's who of privatization and sucking public tax dollars out of public schools and into the coffers of educorporations.


      Bellwether is just another non-profit sucking money out of education just like Oliver explains. John King Jr's wife is big in Bellwether and her husband is now the Secretary of Education for the United States.

      Pardon me while I leave the room and heave. And brush my teeth. And gargle with the really strong stuff.

      No one said Obama was an education expert but even he should have known better unless this was intentional.

      I've said before I had some problems with his appointments. Ken Salazar and Arne Duncan both being on the top of my list of objectionable appointments.

      I've yet to see if Hillary Clinton is going to do any better.

      I am glad I am retired and I have no children or grandchildren to be "educated" by this bunch, Democrats included since in this they seem to be no better than the Republicans.


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