Far Out Friday: Charter schools go to war with John Oliver

Far Out Friday: Charter schools go to war with John Oliver

A famous comedian’s segment grilling charter schools in the US has sparked a counter-campaign aimed at promoting them.

John Oliver, who hosts the HBO hit series Last Week Tonight, dedicated a segment to blasting charter schools, which receive government funding but operate independently of the established public school system in which they are located.

In the episode, which aired on August 21, Oliver questioned why the schools have been allowed to flourish over the last 25 years without sufficient oversight.

To reinforce his point, Oliver showed a clip of Ohio’s Governor, John Kasich, who talked about how he wanted to run public schools like pizza shops.

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 then proceeds to savage the notion that public education would improve if it were operated like a business in an unprecedented way on a popular television show.

“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,” he said.

“So if we are going to treat charter schools like pizza shops, we should monitor them at least as well as we do pizzerias. It’s like the old saying, ‘Give a kid a s****y pizza, you’ve f**ked up their day. Treat a kid like a s****y pizza, you could f**k up their entire life.”

Following the episode, the Washington-based Center for Education Reform – a non-profit pro-charter organization – offered $100,000 to the school that creates the best rebuttal video to Oliver’s rant.

It’s called the “Hey John Oliver! Back Off My Charter School!” Video Contest, and all applicants have to do is come up with a retort explaining why charters are fabulous — in no longer than three minutes — and properly submit their video.

This story was originally published by the Washington Post