John Oliver Calls For Monitoring of Charter Schools: The System ‘Doesn’t Work on Any Level’


Tax payer funded but publicly run school known as charters are legal and in operation in 42 states and DC, and while the notion of letting the free market dictate schools that can be opened, too frequently these education centers come to disastrous ends without proper oversight.

That was at the heart of John Oliver‘s deep dive on Last Week Tonight Sunday, who highlighted the staggering wave of charter school closings, including one that was forced to take daily field trips to compensate for that fact that were was, well, no actual school. The comedian quipped, “How is that even possible? Surely by day ten you’ve run out of ideas and are now taking kids to Marshalls to return a belt.”

Oliver managed to take aim at Ohio Governor and former Republican presidential candidate John Kasich in the process while skewering some of the charter laws on the books in the Buckeye State. After a clip of Kasich from 2009 played where the governor noted the strength in the system that comes from more schools opening and competing with one another, Oliver said, “That doesn’t work on any level… it’s a little hard to hear the man who just defunded Planned Parenthood talk about the importance of choice.”

But the development of these programs has its downsides. As an Akron Beacon Journal article from last year states, “…charter schools misspend public money nearly four times more often than any other type of taxpayer-funded agency.” One school administrator had been setting aside a “personal slush fund” to spend at her disposal, that included, “…spas, jewelry, luggage, plays, veterinary care… and trips to Europe and to see the television show ‘Oprah’.”

Even cyber charters and the 180,000 students involved come under scrutiny, where very loose attendance guidelines often mean that numbers are being misreported. Under the current system, charter schools are actually incentivized to fudge their numbers for hope of more taxpayer funding, a fact that Oliver slammed in his segment.

“The problem with letting the free market decide when it comes to kids is that kids change faster than the market,” he said Sunday. “By the time it’s clear that a charter is failing, future’s may have been ruined.”

Watch the above clip from HBO’s Last Week Tonight.

[image via screengrab]

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