Last night, John Oliver aimed his infotaining satire cannon at America's ongoing charter school debate, bringing a refreshing degree of nuance to the issue. In his typically lengthy segment, Oliver acknowledged the nation's diverse charter school landscape, where some charter schools provide students with excellent educations, while zooming in on others that are so poorly run they're shuttered before the school year ends.
In the eighteen-minute-long clip below, Oliver tears down politicians who claim charter schools are the only solution to failing public schools. The segment includes a choice quote from renowned pizza expert John Kasich. "We will improve the public schools if there's a sense of competition. Just like a pizza shop in a town, if there's only one and there's not much pepperoni on it, you can call until you're blue in the face," Kasich said in 2009. "But the best way to get pepperoni, more pepperoni on that pizza, is to open up a second pizza shop. And that's what's going to improve our schools."
"The notion that the more pizza shops there are, the better pizza becomes is effectively undercut by the two words: 'Papa John's,'" Oliver concludes.
Not to mention, Ohio's charter school law was so lax that the state used to be called "the wild west" by education advocates, and a review of the state's tax audits found that Ohio charter schools "misspend public money nearly four times more than any other type of taxpayer-funded agency." One school superintendent was found using the school, which catered to inner-city students in Cincinnati, as her own personal "slush fund," using money from the schools to purchase spa packages, jewelry, and trips to see Oprah. But for charter schools, generating profit is part of the game.
"Education is first, last, and foremost a business. If it's run like a business, it can always be done profitably," David Brennan, founder of Akron-based education consulting firm White Hat Management once said. Or, as Oliver puts it, "Take the L off the word 'learning' and what do you've got? 'Earning!"