Education

John Oliver's Anti-Charter School Rant Is Clever, Glib, and Uninformed

Public charters help students and traditional schools perform better.

|

HBO

On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver took aim at charter schools, which are publicly funded K-12 schools that are given more autonomy than conventional residential-assignment public schools to set their own curricula, make hiring decisions, and focus on particular sorts of instruction. In exchange for greater freedom, charters get significantly less per-pupil funding than traditional schools (about 30 percent or $3,000 less, according to one study) and typically no funds for buildings and other physical plant. Most importantly, unlike traditional schools, charters must voluntarily attract students; no one is assigned to them and they only keep their doors open if they keep students enrolled in them.

Charters have received praise from both liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, and they represent the most popular type of K-12 education reform over the past quarter-century. Created in Minnesota in the early 1990s, there are now about 6,700 charters in 42 states and the District of Columbia. They educate about 3 million students out of the more than 55 million kids enrolled in public and private K-12 education and in some large urban school districts (such as New Orleans and Detroit), they educate a majority or students.

Oliver's segment (watch below) was almost unrelieved in its criticism of charters. Echoing the talking points of major teachers unions and liberal interest group such as People for the American Way and the NAACP, the HBO host attacked charters for being unaccountable to local and state authorities (this is not true, as all state charter laws have various types of oversight rules built into them), "draining" resources from traditional public schools (which presumes tax dollars for education belong to existing power structures), and skimming students (in fact, charters teach a higher percentage of racial and ethnic minorities than traditional public schools; they also serve a higher percentage of economically disadvanataged kids). Which is not to say that Oliver is all wrong in his analysis. For instance, he ran through a series of charters that were criminally mismanaged and deserved to be shut down (even as he glossed over the fact that failing charters, unlike failing traditional schools, are more likely to be closed). And he's right to argue that, on average, charters perform about the same as regular public schools.

However, such comparisons tell us very little about whether charters do help those at-risk students better than traditional schools. On this score, there is very little doubt that charters do more with less money and fewer resources. University of Arkansas education researcher Jay Greene summarizes the data on "randomized control trials" (RCTs), which compare students who enrolled in charters and other who wanted to but were not able to due to limited slots. Because most charters use lotteries to enroll students, it's possible to match the effect of attending a charter versus a traditional school. As Greene puts it:

Students in urban areas do significantly better in school if they attend a charter schools than if they attend a traditional public school. These academic benefits of urban charter schools are quite large. In Boston, a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard, Duke, and the University of Michigan, conducted a RCT and found: "The charter school effects reported here are therefore large enough to reduce the black-white reading gap in middle school by two-thirds."

A RCT of charter schools in New York City by a Stanford researcher found an even larger effect: "On average, a student who attended a charter school for all of grades kindergarten through eight would close about 86 percent of the 'Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap' in math and 66 percent of the achievement gap in English."

The same Stanford researcher conducted an RCT of charter schools in Chicago and found: "students in charter schools outperformed a comparable group of lotteried-out students who remained in regular Chicago public schools by 5 to 6 percentile points in math and about 5 percentile points in reading…. To put the gains in perspective, it may help to know that 5 to 6 percentile points is just under half of the gap between the average disadvantaged, minority student in Chicago public schools and the average middle-income, nonminority student in a suburban district."

Cato.org, Andrrew Coulson

And the last RCT was a national study conducted by researchers at Mathematica for the US Department of Education. It found significant gains for disadvantaged students in charter schools but the opposite for wealthy suburban students in charter schools. They could not determine why the benefits of charters were found only in urban, disadvantaged settings, but their findings are consistent with the three other RCTs that found significant achievement gains for charter students in Boston, Chicago, and New York City.

More here.

These are not small achievements and they received no mention in Oliver's excoriaton of charters, which focused on a series of terribly managed schools. More power to him on that score: It's always worth calling attention to wasteful expenditures of tax dollars. However, it's not particularly helpful to do so while simply ignoring the overwhelmingly superior results of charters for the most at-risk students they serve, especially if doing so simply blunts criticism of traditional public schools that have seen real per-pupil spending soar without any improvement in student outcomes.

Indeed, charters are best understood as one way of introducing choice into a system that is predicated upon denying choice from its participants. A child's ZIP code shouldn't determine her opportunities, runs a popular slogan in school choice circles. Yet that's exactly what traditional residential-assignment schools do. Wealthier Americans exercise school choice by deciding to live in this or that neighbhorhood or town, or by sending their kids to private schools. Poorer Americans have no such options but are instead stuck with schools that routinely underperform.

Toward the end of the Oliver segment, he takes Gov. John Kasich of Ohio to task for arguing that charter schools also introduce to education the same sort of competition that we all understand raises the average level of other goods and services. Kasich (who by the way is hardly a staunch supporter of charters or school choice) clumsily walks through an example of a town with one "pizza shop" that would up its offerings if a second "pizza shop" opened up. Oliver mocks Kasich for calling pizzerias "shops" and ultimately launches into a bit about how education is not simply beholden to normal laws of supply and demand.

This is all clever, glib, and blessedly uninformed by research that shows increasing publicly funded choices for parents increases outcomes for students across the board. Holy hell, it turns out that education, a $620 billion industry, actually does respond to competitive pressures, just like most other activities.

It's precisely that lack of seriousness in Oliver that is so off-putting. In the name of standing up for taxpayers and students, Oliver does a cliched piss-take on one of the few reforms that has actually helped poor kids in school districts from Los Angeles to New York.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

158 responses to “John Oliver's Anti-Charter School Rant Is Clever, Glib, and Uninformed

  1. Oliver’s a gun hating ,government loving socialist. In other words an fucking Brit. Spent 5 hours mowing and trimming and cleaning out the tomato plants for the year. Pizza and beer time. I’ve always enjoyed having Monday’s off.

    1. What varieties are you growing?

    2. Oliver is a total coward. and marginally funny sometimes but if he was truly funny, he would tearing Clinton to pieces.

      1. You gotta admit though, that it is funny that Gillespie thinks Oliver gives a shit about what Nick thinks, or that he is open to any sort of factual rebuttal.

        Oliver knows he’s a propagandist. It’s why his paychecks clear the bank.

    3. Oliver is all of the negatives of Jon Stewart with non of the positives. At least Stewart was a bit funny, and he would occasionally poke fun at liberals too. Oliver just glibly parrots lefty talking points.

      1. Oliver is a guy with minimal talent who took the easy road of kissing ass, which in the entertainment industry means, kissing progressive ass. He probably thinks that some day others will kiss his ass. He’ll just get replaced by a better ass kisser who wants to get his 15 minutes in the spotlight and will work for less.

    4. “Oliver’s a gun hating ,government loving socialist. In other words an fucking Brit.”

      And, surprise, he’s a lying fucking Brit.

    5. “Clever, Glib, and Uninformed with John Oliver” would be a MUCH better name for that show.

  2. I’m gonna keep saying it… Oliver is like the kid that has decent potential, but keeps fucking it up.

    1. Potential at what? Making silly faces and deadpan humor?

      I don’t see why the cult of the instant expert needs to be enabled any more than it already is; merely being in the public eye and having the ability to use large words in their proper context seems to qualify anyone on any subject they have zero personal experience or applied understanding of.

      1. But he DESTROYED this thing I don’t like!

        1. LITERALLY DESTROYED.

      2. But unlike other instant experts, he can say large words with an English accent.

        1. If this is a reference to Robin Hood Men in Tights, I applaud you good sir.

          If it isn’t, it should be.

            1. signed H&R Blockhead?

        2. +1 Greco-Roman Period Movie

          1. Greco-Roman Period Movie

            I can’t confirm, but Crusty assured me that Cleopatra’s Menses was tastefully done.

            1. *tastefully*? Oooohhh

        3. Well done.

  3. The real issue that charters must be destroyed is because they can be destroyed. The existence of a potentially cost-effective schooling option that must be accountable to its customers is an anathema to the unions and public school system.

    1. issue reason

    2. Bingo. The whole educational establishment, which the Left spent so much time and energy taking over, is crumbling due to nitwit theology(Marxism), criminal mismanagement, and general stupidity. And the Left absolutely MUST shore it up, or there goes a good deal of their power base.

    3. always remember the government does not like competition and you will understand all

    4. Why should the school be accountable to state and local authorities? The only ones they should be accountable to are it’s customers. Otherwise, the customers will always be neglected.

  4. Oliver mocks Kasich for calling pizzerias “shops” and ultimately launches into a bit about how education is not simply beholden to normal laws of supply and demand.

    The hell it ain’t.

    1. No one believes in the laws of economics more than me. But it doesn’t apply to education, or health care, or insurance, or emergency services, or…

      1. I wholeheartedly support free speech, but….

    2. So, John Oliver is an ignorant, dishonest, leftist twat. Shocking he has been provided a forum on HBO.

  5. On this score, there is very little doubt that charters do more at least as much with less money and fewer resources.

  6. John Oliver’s Anti-Charter School Rant Is Clever, Glib, and Uninformed.

    1. This is all clever, glib, and blessedly uninformed

      John Oliver’s entire schtick?

    2. Well, always 2, often 1 and 3.

  7. I’ve never seen much real evidence of the ‘clever’ part, but ‘glib and uninformed’ is Oliver to a tee.

  8. I’ve only seen one segment of Oliver’s show. It was his story on infrastructure spending. A couple minutes into it, it became clear I was only getting one side of the issue, and it ended with a pretty lazy, unfunny skit (a trailer for an ‘action movie’ about engineers doing routine maintenance).

    I’ve not bothered watching anything else, no matter who or what he DESTROYS.

    1. He’s done some really good segments on Public Defenders and Standardized Testing, just to name a couple.

    2. He uses the same methodology that Stewart pioneered on The Daily Show–present a highly edited, distorted take that makes his ideological opponent look ridiculous, scream out a bunch of gibberish, make funny faces, and then proceed to offer a “substantive” one-sided rejoinder.

      I’ve seen it described before as a form of sophistic “hypnotism”, and I’m not inclined to disagree. It’s mass media manipulation at its finest. The “Net Neutrality” piece is a great example of this in action.

  9. Jon Stewart is retired but the culture of uninformed smugness continues to flourish.

    1. They needed a successor to the Daily Show. They got one with Oliver, and Oliver isn’t as funny as Stewart.

      1. Nor is Samantha Bee or that jackass that just got cancelled last week, or Colbert.

        1. Samantha Bee especially. Just the 5 second snippets they show during commercials to advertise her show enough o give any sane person a stroke, I didn’t realize it was even suppose to be a comedy how until a few days ago. It’s basically like a two minute hate session for the DNC.

        2. That jackass that just got cancelled last week is quite possibly the only black man in America using a national TV platform on an ostensibly liberal format to oppose gun control legislation and terror watch lists in the wake of the Orlando night club shootings. If nothing else, you gotta give him that.

    2. Hell, the culture of willful ignorance. And it has flourished on the Political Left since the Edwardian Era. Each successive experiment with Progressive control is hailed as The New Dawn, amd each crash and burn brings on amnesia about what was said before.

      And I really don’t think most of them are faking it. I really think it’s more delusion than dishonesty (though some dishonesty runs through it).

  10. Why the fuck is it that liberals are willing to throw children, and particularly poor and minority children, under the bus if it serves the state?

    I’ve mentioned this before here. There’s a charter school near where I work. According to the state’s statistics, it’s over 90% minority, and over 80% of the kids there are on free or reduced school lunch. It’s one of the, if not the, best elementary schools in the downtown area. It’s far, far better (by the state’s metrics) than any of the inner-city public schools around here. So, I want an explanation from Oliver or the NAACP or the teachers’ unions as to why those children should be deprived of getting a better education.

    1. Wait, you want the teachers union to care about student success? That’s going to cost an awful lot.

      1. Spot on. The teacher’s union is worse than the mob. They make copious amounts of money from the school districts, intentionally roadblock things that improve education, and intimidate public officials.

        We need to pass a law that requires all federal employee unions to provide publicly-traded-corporation-like transparency into their financials. They will fight this with nuclear weapons because it’s most likely their members would revolt if they knew.

        1. naw. just ban public employee unions.

          1. The challenge to the Cali teacher’s union membership mandate was on its way to surely curtailing their size and influence until Scalia’s death and 4-4 deadlock kicking it back to the 9th circuits statist ruling. Something HAS to break this sometime I just don’t know how parents accept this.

    2. Because it threatens the powers that be. No other reason.

      These people, whether they admit it or not, are in service to the state and its cronyists.

      1. They don’t see it that way. They see government as an extension of themselves. They are part of government because government is the people. They take all criticism of government personally. They see taxes as taking from the evil rich and giving money to the people. They see government schools as a collective effort that they themselves are part of because government is the people.

        Contrast that with the private sector. The private sector has no altruism. It’s all about greed. It is the enemy. It is something to steal from in the name of equality. It must be chained because it is a threat to the people.

        Got to look at it from their point of view. Once you do, you will see that argument and debate is futile. Might as well try to teach calculus to an infant.

    3. Because it isn’t run by government. Duh. Government is us, so whatever it does is good. The private sector is them. It is the greedy people who only care about profits. So they can’t be trusted. Only government can be trusted because it is us and we are government. All reality-based people understand this.

    4. People who feel strongly about this issue are very conspiracy minded. In their heads there is a plan and that plan involves chipping away at the public schools by offering a good product until the public schools are destroyed, at which point all these alternative options will start taking their direction from WalMart and the Koch Bros. In their heads this is all a massive evil ploy by wealthy conservatives to destroy public education, one of the greatest of all progressive achievements.

    5. Why the fuck is it that liberals are willing to throw children, and particularly poor and minority children, under the bus if it serves the state?

      Quite simple, really. They need clients. Poor and minority children gained the means to escape their situation, they wouldn’t well be very useful as clients.

    6. It’s only good because the best parents put their kids in that school. It’s “black flight.”

      Those kids should be put back in public schools where they can be an example to other children.

    7. Schools don’t exist for the sake of students. Students exist of the sake of schools.

  11. But, I suppose, if John Oliver had said the right things about charter schools we should be praising his opinion.

    He’s a talking monkey. They feed him lines and he says them. If he’s really smart, he came up with the jokes (but certainly not the informational content) himself. Why on Earth should he get any credit whatsoever for intelligence or cogency on these issues? At least Bill Buckley or Gore Vidal were well read even if they were frequently wrong and lacking in actual understanding; what does John Oliver bring to the table besides snark and Buzzfeed-level knowledge?

    1. He’s a talking monkey.

      If you compare the YooToob thumby this foto, the resemblance is striking.

      1. Did you just say “talking monkey”?

        -Yes, a talking monkey. Comes from the future. Ugly little bugger……only says “ficus”.

  12. Meh. Commie leftist says …. I ignore commie leftist. But I really do wonder how this proves that Trump is Satan. There must be a way, I’m sure Reason will find it.

  13. research that shows increasing publicly funded choices for parents increases outcomes for students across the board

    Gillespie has SugarFreed the link

    Also…

    what the fuck is the deal with the guy’s mustache-stubble? he shaves, but leaves his under-nostril ‘in the rough’?

    i already dislike the guy, but his weird, greek*-level-hairy-upper-lip-look crosses the line into “creepy”

    (*i had a greek friend in college. he shaved with a straight razor every morning. by mid-afternoon, he could grate parmesan with his chin. he literally needed to shave twice a day to maintain anything short of perpetual “Sargent Rock“)

    1. Also…

      what the fuck is the deal with the guy’s mustache-stubble? he shaves, but leaves his under-nostril ‘in the rough’?

      He needs a depilatory or electrolysis, GILMORE. (Sorry about misspelling your nom du blog)

      Otherwise, I had a colleague from Iraq a few years back, and that hairy fucker made KSM look like a hairless twink. He had to shave, literally, three times a day. He carried some fancy-schmancy Braun electric razor with him at all times; it was not uncommon for him to shave whilst entering stuff into his Physician’s Notes or completing dictation.

      1. He probably could have had a wicked braided Mesopotamian beard

        The nobility of fighting endless-losing-battles is …debatable, if the only purpose is vanity.

        1. The nobility of fighting endless-losing-battles is …debatable, if the only purpose is vanity.

          Nope, he’s an orthopaedic surgeon; the required PPE (and that even without the “space suit helmet” – they are called this colloquially in surgery – and they have an exhaust fan to try an keep it cool in there) gets REALLY hot (requiring a beard net AND a full hood for those with impressive beardage) since orthopaedic has the highest concern for post op-SSI (osteomyelitis, specifically).

          He said he’d rather endure frequent shaving than melting in the hood and excess PPE get up. That, and his wife hates beards, assuming he’s still married to her (and she was quite a looker at the time).

          1. the required PPE

            Jesus, thanks for triggering my alien-abduction PTSD

  14. Who are you gonna believe … a snarky comedian or your lying eyes?

  15. Thus sayth John Oliver from his public access television show. Oh wait, he’s saying this from the platform of one of the most important private entertainment companies in the United States. It’s odd how he understands financial incentives and supply and demand when it comes to his career.

    1. KKKORPORASHUNS!!!

      I see that progs enjoy “corporate influence” when it’s to their benefit.

  16. Oliver seems like a nice gent but still comes across as the epitome of the “smarmy bespectacled British guy with a holier-than-thou attitude,” and it’s probably why my prog friends love him so much.

  17. He is just the average douche shill for the Clinton campaign although he thinks he is not.

    This is a tired act that fools no one. He acts like a cynic that criticizes all blatant misdeeds and injustices while asserting such a heavily weighted bias that you cannot make it through his long winded diatribes.

    The comedic material of the past 8 years was such low hanging fruit, we could have had some of the funniest, long lasting political satire in history but these robots did not have the balls to criticize the black guy.

  18. RE: John Oliver’s Anti-Charter School Rant Is Clever, Glib, and Uninformed
    Public charters help students and traditional schools perform better.

    Public charter schools should be banned for a number of reasons. The children of the little people should not be as educated as the offspring of our ruling elitist turds. A good education is rightfully reserved for our obvious betters. Why should the kids of the little people have more than a third grade education? What business is it of theirs to learn mathematics, literature, physics, history, economics, etc?They do not need that kind of knowledge to clean the bathrooms of their betters, wash their cars or mow their lawns. Secondly, public charter schools do not have unions. This means the lazy and incompetent teachers now have to show results if they are to continue working as a teacher. How can the lazy and incompetent teachers get their money and benefits if they don’t produce? There are no teachers unions to protect them. How sick is that? What happened to equality? Plus, the excellent teachers will make more than the ordinary teachers. That should never happen. Pay should be based upon automatic pay raises (and more benefits) as voted on by their bought and sold state and local politicians. The unwashed masses should never have choice. They are too unenlightened to know what is good for them. Only our ruling socialist sociopaths should enjoy the privilege of choice.

    1. You meant this as snark. But it is actually reality. The point of the public schools is to mint out factory workers. They are designed to create a citizenry that can show up on time, take breaks at the whistle, read simple safety instructions and leave at the appointed time. That is all.

      Private schools are where the factory owners and managers send their kids to be trained in leadership skills, so they can take over the family business or run for public office.

      This little open secret somehow never gets mentioned, particularly by the left. But it is easily verified by looking at contemporaneous writings from the founding of our system of public education. The want an educated workforce. Just not too educated.

      1. Cyto,

        You are correct.
        Perhaps that’s why John Dewey is considered an untouchable saint in the education field.
        Elitism at its acme.

  19. So let me get this straight he admits that Charter schools perform the same at a cheaper cost? This is bad how?

    1. Spending less money means less JERBZ! More Broken windows!!!

  20. “Charter schools misspend public money nearly 4 times as more often than any other type of tax-payer funded agency”

    What is this statistic based on?

    I presume the number is heavily manipulated and with lots of qualifiers. But I’m still quite curious where the number came from.

    1. From his own posterior. Where else?

      1. Someone’s else’s posterior? I’m pretty sure he doesn’t write his own material.

    2. Nevermind, it was part of an audit from Ohio charter schools.

      Of course, JO portrayed as if it applied to all charter schools in the country.

      The article did not talk about what were considered as “misspend” though, which I found it dubious.

      As a rule of thumb, statistics/data/figures baked in sentences are generally dubious/hand-picked to NOT show the entire picture.

      1. Well, when you take the perspective that public school funds are never misspent, it’s not hard to arrive at whatever multiplier you want for charters.

        1. Beyond this, if you simply measure “dollars given per student” for each system, it is pretty easy to see that the “misspent” audit is a red herring.

          If they are given $3k less per student, and that doesn’t count infrastructure costs which are provided to the regular school but not for the charter school, then it doesn’t really matter if they spent every nickel on coke and hookers. If they got the same results, then the money was better spent at the charter school.

          1. Yup

            When I went to Elementary school in the early 70’s, we had a Principal, 2 office ladies, and a nurse that showed up 12 hrs/wk.

            Now they’ve got a Pricipal, 2 Asst Principals, a “director of Diversity”, 3 Guidance counselors, and four extra workers in the office to simply fill out Dept of Ed paperwork.

            And the kids are still just as dumb as we were…

  21. John Oliver is a standard-issue leftist cunt?? I’m flabbergasted. Never saw that twist coming.

    1. Honestly, I wouldn’t use the word “left” of “leftist” because it antagonizes a whole host of people, which doesn’t promote discussions of the actual issues.

      Having that said, I wouldn’t blame John Oliver. He’s only selling those ideas because there are lots and lots of willing buyers.

      1. Well he did qualify him as a ‘standard-issue’ leftist. There may be some leftists who actually support school choice, but the establishment and the Party definitely oppose it.

        And I will still blame Oliver. We don’t forgive Goebbels for selling people ideas for willing buyers; we should also not pretend that this is just salesmanship. Oliver isn’t just selling what people want, he’s using his position to influence people’s opinions. Like a good propagandist he works with existing preconceptions and prejudices to mold a narrative in people’s minds consistent with the ideology he favors.

  22. So, John Oliver was a disingenuous little shit palming off hackneyed progressive talking points as satire or political commentary.

    Sorry, but this is sort of a dog bites man story.

  23. For instance, he ran through a series of charters that were criminally mismanaged and deserved to be shut down

    Unlike failing public schools which are never shut down and never stop taking your money at gunpoint no matter how terrible they are.

  24. so what did you expect form this liberal media lacky, the Truth, progs can’t handle the Truth

  25. Oliver is definitely a strong contender for most punchable face of the moment.

    1. Ezra Klein- undefeated and still champion of the “punchable face” tourney…

  26. So, one reason I think Progressives detest charter schools is linked to the disparity in benefit that the Cato study referenced between “disadvantaged” students moving to a charter vs. middle- to upper-class white students moving to a charter.

    What can’t be quantitatively measured in the study is that typically the latter group of students have at least one parent who is willing and able to engage with the school and take an active role in his/her child or children’s education. Also, those families tend to have both parents at least actively involved in the family if not living together as a stable couple, and they tend to have fewer children.

    In the disadvantaged group, you have students coming from single-parent homes, or first-gen immigrant homes. Often these are children coming from cultures that don’t value education (or even actively shun it), or value it less than entering the workforce ASAP. In other cases, the parents might not have the time to actively engage in their kids’ education, or have trouble communicating. Also, these are often large families where limited resources have to be divided amongst several children.

    1. The one group already has a pretty good shot at getting a decent education. The other, however, benefits dramatically when parents with limited resources that actually give a shit have a chance to choose better schools for their kids. Unfortunately, not all parents of children in that demographic care about school other than the legal requirement to attend and as a place to stick their kids during the day.

      So, the thing that Progs hate is that charter schools expose the fact that, for a not insignificant portion of the “disadvantaged”, their situation is self-perpetuated.

    2. Actually, I believe a significant number of the studies compare the results for children which got into the charter versus those who wanted in but did not win a seat via the lottery. The fact there is a definite difference depending on the $#!@ lottery results is a sad commentary.

  27. Oliver is a talented satirist. He can be pretty funny and sometimes hits the mark. On this issue, however, he was totally off base. He cherry picked a few bad apple examples in a few states and used it to indict the whole movement. Of course, bad charters should be shut down – I didn’t need to hear him rant for almost fifteen minutes being an apostle of the obvious. His failure to mention that unlike charter schools, it is virtually impossible to shut down a failing public school and that in terms of the numbers of students being poorly served, the charters have a log way to go to catch up the the incompetence and theft of taxpayer dollars and student futures perpetuated for generations now by big city teacher’s unions.

    1. The irony is that public schools that are going in the toilet are beginning to adopt an operational posture similar to what they do at charter schools–more control at the local instead of district level to increase their flexibility–except now they’re called “innovation plans” and they’re only implemented if the school is on the absolute ropes. Or splitting up campuses and assigning students based on their abilities and interests rather than a one-size-fits-all model.

  28. I thought we kicked the British out years ago? Man, some people can sure hold a long-term grudge.

    Oliver can piss off, fucking wanker.

    1. I defer to Glenn Danzig on this one – “Fuck the British, the British suck. Fuck those limey cunts over in England….they can all eat my ass”

      1. Thank you for that quote. I will be repeating it often.

  29. “And he’s right to argue that, on average, charters perform about the same as regular public schools.”

    That’s kind of all you need to know, isn’t it? For all the proclaimed benefits of letting rich people paternalistic ally take over the school system in order to teach us about Ayn Rand or just for-profit hucksters bilk the tax payer for their shitty schools, eh, charter schools do about the same as public schools.

    Right down the street from me is an excellent public school that I plan on sending my kid. For those of you in shitty school districts, eh, it’s probably a good idea to bitch about the tax rates on the top 1%. That’ll fix those crumbling schools.

    1. Yeah, fuck those at risk kids.

    2. If those stingy bastards in Baltimore would cough up more money, all would be utopia. How can we expect a school to graduate students who can read with a mere $15,000 per pupil?

      1. True story from Baltimore city schools. My moms friend was a math specialist helping teachers teach math (to the test). She could not for the life of her help one fine 8th grade teacher understand why her circle depicting thirds was incorrect. The teacher drew a circle divided in half, with one half split in half again (i.e. 1/2, 1/4, 1/4). She could not understand this was not a picture of “1/3s”…

    3. So you admit they perform about the same at a lower cost? And how is that failure?

      And yeah, that’s the problem with public schools. They don’t have enough money. The US spends more money on public education than every country but Switzerland, and at least a dozen of them outperform us. But yeah, when officials mismanage public services, it only makes sense that we should reward them with more money. Why not pour ever more wine into a broken wine skin.

    4. Yeah, screw education for profit.

      That’s pretty much what we should tell all the teachers unions and asked for more money: it’s not supposed to be about the money. It’s supposed to be about LUV.

      1. Brian,

        I thought Oliver’s piece was carefully nuanced. Do libertarians always throw a shit fit when someone tells them the world might be more complicated than their pet theories allow?

        1. I’m sorry the LTV didn’t pan out.

        2. “Do libertarians always throw a shit fit when someone tells them the world might be more complicated than their pet theories allow?”
          Haha, any socialist who can utter this sentence without irony deserves his own comedy show.

    5. The government schools in the United States are grossly overfunded relative to the rest of the world and produce inferior results.. Why would I want to add more taxes to fund failing government monopolies when there is another option that gets modestly better results for far less money?

  30. It’s pretty rich that a privileged, imported retard like Oliver feels entitled to opine on America’s public education situation.

    I’m sure his equally retarded spawn will attend whatever ridiculously expensive private school his wife chooses for them.

  31. John Oliver is the current left in a nutshell: a feeling of intellectual superiority based on limited, one-sided information, and countless straw men getting destroyed with mildly clever punchlines

  32. Confirms my impression that John Oliver takes on easy targets, does thorough research, then comes up with nothing terribly original. The humor is fun, but the main arguments make you feel uncomfortably pulled in.

    Nick, you have to get a better editor for your articles! Too many mistakes!

  33. I watched the whole thing. It is funny, informed, and witty. Here is what Oliver did in the piece

    A. He acknowledges that the subject of charter schools is complicated.
    B. He presents an example of a well-functioning charter school as an example of nuance
    C. He presents an example of where charter schools aren’t doing well
    D. He suggests that charter schools in states that don’t adequately monitor them tend to be shitty nightmares.

    Crucify him, man.

    None of that is a wholesale rejection of charter schools. Indeed, their value is explicitly stated in the video. I mean, Jesus Christ. The example of unseriousness here is the authors’.

  34. Given that B is far more common than C (and the fact that he ignores that public school mismanagement is the rule rather than the exception in major cities throughout the country), and that D is just plain false, yeah, I’d say he deserves some shit for his little skit.

    1. But my guess is you didn’t actually bother to look at the Greene paper mentioned in the article. Probably just written by some Koch brothers anti-proletarian shill, so better to ignore, right?

  35. That whole show is just a rehash of family guy’s Grind My Gears aimed at room-temperature IQ lefties; it’s the same audience that watches the Daily Show to have an opinion on geopolitics.

  36. Oliver is a political satirist. Not sure why everyone dislikes him that much. As to charter schools : ‘There are about 6,400 charter schools out there. Of those, roughly 1,000 score in the bottom 15%. Then there are the middling charters that are doing the same or a little better than traditional neighborhood schools. But then, set far apart, are the top 20 percent, roughly 1,300 charter schools that are burning new records.’ So, in essence, 15% fall below standard, 20% surpass standard and the balance are in the middle. As a one time teacher, I don’t find that much different than public schools. And unlike the author of this piece (simply just a rant against a TV personality), the upper 20% in my mind is simply explained as parents that care about education (and think their children get a better education at a charter), donate time to the schools and hover over their kids as they do their homework. I doubt their kids would perform any differently in a public school as in a charter school. These same parents would be PTA members vote for school bonds, and focus their attention on their kid’s progress. Charter schools aren’t magic.

    1. As I was looking for a school for our first child, I did a ton of research on this topic. I looked at private schools ranging from $7,500 per year to $25,000 per year. I looked at public schools all across the region. I talked to teachers, principles, administrators and school board members.

      Nobody could tell me what makes a good school better than a bad school. You could look at the test scores, but the teachers all come from the same pond, the curricula are not that varied…

      The only consistent variable that I could identify that was 100% predictive was the demographics of the school. The richer and whiter the parents, the better the school performed on state evaluations. That is all. The poorer and more minorities, the worse the school was. Plain and simple. Rich and black is much better than poor and white. If mom and dad are all lawyers and doctors and the like, then the school is great. If mom and dad have good paying jobs as nurses and electricians, then the school is good And if mom is a maid and dad left with his other kid to New Jersey, then the school sucks.

      I ran that observation by several school officials. They all thought that was about right.

      The only difference I could identify in private schools was an emphasis on leadership at the most exclusive schools that were explicitly aimed at ivy league college admissions.

    2. As I was looking for a school for our first child, I did a ton of research on this topic. I looked at private schools ranging from $7,500 per year to $25,000 per year. I looked at public schools all across the region. I talked to teachers, principles, administrators and school board members.

      Nobody could tell me what makes a good school better than a bad school. You could look at the test scores, but the teachers all come from the same pond, the curricula are not that varied…

      The only consistent variable that I could identify that was 100% predictive was the demographics of the school. The richer and whiter the parents, the better the school performed on state evaluations. That is all. The poorer and more minorities, the worse the school was. Plain and simple. Rich and black is much better than poor and white. If mom and dad are all lawyers and doctors and the like, then the school is great. If mom and dad have good paying jobs as nurses and electricians, then the school is good And if mom is a maid and dad left with his other kid to New Jersey, then the school sucks.

      I ran that observation by several school officials. They all thought that was about right.

      The only difference I could identify in private schools was an emphasis on leadership at the most exclusive schools that were explicitly aimed at ivy league college admissions.

    3. I feel that you can only be called a satirist if you are able to make fun of all subjects (regardless of political affiliation) to a certain genre. J.O seems incapable of going beyond progressive talking points. And he gets way too emotional to really be funny. All great comedians have that inner nihilism that allows them to point out the obscurities in life. Oliver cares too much for “the cause” to branch out.

      1. Indeed. Dennis Miller is the closest equivalent on the right I think. In any case, the best comedians are the most apolitical ones. Norm McDonald at the top in my opinion.

  37. Can’t help but completely discount your entire article by this TRUE FACT: PLEASE READ
    1. Google the reason foundation (the company the owns and runs reason.com)
    2. find the section that talks about how their head of education reform, Lisa Snell, is an ADVISOR/BOARD MEMBER that oversees the California Virtual Academies, an online charter school.
    3. Google California Virtual Academies and find out they just settled a suit LAST MONTH for misappropriating funds and lying about attendance records http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp…..uuid=59161

    THE TRUTH NICK GILLESPIE IS THAT THE VERY COMPANY THAT RUNS THIS SITE IS GUILTY OF EXACTLY WHAT JOHN OLIVER CLAIMS IN THIS VIDEO YOU ARE THE MISINFORMED LIAR!!

    1. Neat

      1. Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?

    2. Yeah…… Finished the article, looked over the next ten articles from the site, found the pattern of reporting, looked over the website and organization background, inferred their priorities from there. Seems like a pretty cherry picked example to me.

      1. And funded and run by people with a vested interest in the status quo. Anyone who cites edweek to show reason is tainted has an awesome sense of humor or complete lack of awareness.

  38. John Oliver with a one-sided, ill-informed and misleading take on something political? No fucking way, man. No fucking way.

  39. “It’s a little hard to hear the man who just defunded Planned Parenthood talk about choice.”

    Because we can’t let the taxpaying public in a state decide whether or not to fund Planned Parenthood. They can’t be allowed to have that choice!

    1. “the tax paying public” didn’t decide to defund Planned Parenthood, the Ohio House of Representatives did through a vote on a bill backed by Kasich……do you know how law making works? hahaha

      1. Denying taxpayer funds doesn’t actually defund an organization. If a portion of the public in Ohio thinks PP deserves funding, they should give their own money. My point was that denying any organization government funding puts the choice back in the hands of the people rather than the government. But of course, the hypocritical left only cares about the “choice” of abortion, not the choice of to send your money where you want to send it.

        1. making a different point to your original to make it seem like you aren’t wrong….okay. again when the people don’t vote on it, it doesn’t really put it in the hands of the people. Regardless your crazy liberal left enemies win again, considering a federal judge has blocked the bill anyway. Also you care so much about the small issue of abortion meanwhile you could give less of a shit about all the other stuff written into tax codes. ignorant conservatives baffle me. a penny of your taxes A YEAR MIGHT fund an abortion depending on your jurisdiction, but by all means I hope that penny goes far for you:)

          1. Again, genius, it doesn’t matter a shit that they didn’t vote on it. You can choose to fund Planned Parenthood if you’d like, or you can choose not to. The very use of taxpayer funding to fund planned parenthood, whatever your opinion of abortion, is a clear violation of individual freedom. Forcing people to give money to the organization is not ‘pro-choice,’ and defunding it does not force people not to give money either; once taxpayer funding is cut off, you are still free to voluntarily give your money to them. That’s the way it should be. Get it? The absence of a state subsidy for McDonald’s does not violate your right to spend your money at McDonald’s, and if McDonald’s goes out of business because no one wants to spend money there voluntarily, then tough shit, it’s not our problem that we chose not to prop it up.

          2. I wasn’t making a different point. I was clarifying because you clearly didn’t understand my point. Of course, MarkLastname is correct. Taxpayer money funding PP (or any other private organization) is a violation of personal freedom and is fundamentally anti-choice.

            “Regardless your crazy liberal left enemies win again, considering a federal judge has blocked the bill anyway.”

            Not to the point of anything I was saying.

            ” Also you care so much about the small issue of abortion meanwhile you could give less of a shit about all the other stuff written into tax codes.”

            Hey, thanks for telling me what I think about the tax code. I mean, I never told you. But great job assuming that abortion is the only issue I care about. Any other people who you think you know what their positions are or aren’t on key issues?

      2. So what you’re saying is, Kasich decided to let taxpayers choose whether or not to donate their money to Planned Parenthood voluntarily or to do whatever else they might want to do with it?

        Seriously, in what universe is forcing taxpayers to fund other people’s choices freedom? Grow up.

      3. With a phone and a pen, right?

  40. I’m not a guy to parrot the line “there oughta be a law…” but if it was illegal for public sector unions to exist, a lot of things would improve. You want to be in a union, great, work in the private sector. You want a public sector job? Cool, you won’t be paying union dues. Also, if you don’t meet the needs, we’ll fire your ass and hire someone else. That’s what they say in the fantasy land that would exist in my ideal world. Work hard and keep everyone happy? We’ll give you a raise and/or a promotion to help you spread those traits among your fellow workers. I hear that option has worked before.

  41. John Oliver is a dyed-in-the-wool leftist. He wouldn’t know objective fact if it slapped him in the face. His leftist beliefs is his religion. He would probably embrace a Muslim as belonging to the Religion of Peace as the Muslim was slitting his throat.

  42. Pizzerias? Who’s pretentious enough to call a pizza place a pizzeria?

  43. Many of the comments here are just ad hominem against Oliver. Which is fine, if you think he is a valueless and deplorable person, attack his person directly if you like.

    Nick’s piece is a bit puzzling. The title seems inflammatory, but the criticism within the article proper is specific in only two instances. Nick seems more upset about what Oliver left out. But the same could be said about Nick’s piece!

    I think Oliver has done some great work. His bit about civil asset forfeiture (complete with a wonderful cinematic production) was beyond brilliant. Never was it mentioned here on reason. When I ask the young (17-22) if they know about civil asset forfeiture, those who do always say it is beyond of Oliver’s youtube video. Maybe his Charter School bit was weaker than some of his others, but if libertarians find nothing of value or concern in the bit it might just be because you don’t care for Oliver generally.

    1. Beyond=because, or that is my assumption at least. Reason may or may not have posted something about the asset forfeiture stuff, but they have posted a few instances where they align with J.O, so I don’t see what your argument was trying to be.

      As for the ad hominem attacks, I can’t speak for other people’s passionate disapproval of Oliver, but I just find the Daily Show format to be shallow and dishonest (even when it aligns with my views). In my (obviously biased) opinion, the fact that so many young people in my generation will get as much information from sources like this just means that they get the full picture from a few areas and one-sided stories about other things.

      As for this most recent segment, it was a pretty obvious attack on alternate school options for families. Don’t get me wrong, Chaters are no magic fix and I welcome the negative data. But it’s not the whole picture and does nothing to advance a real problem for kids and families. To say otherwise is just lazy discourse.

      1. Really, “does nothing”? Not even provide fodder for further investigation? Not even provide exposure of the topic? Nothing at all? It would have been better had he not even addressed the topic at all? Or, maybe never even started his program?

        There isn’t long-form video based journalism anymore*. Oliver’s program is different’t than the Daily Show in that he will often go on about one topic for 15-20 minutes and not put anyone to sleep.

        *Yes, there is Frontline and Vice, but most libertarians probably hate those more than Oliver. And I do love the Reason TV video interviews that Nick does, especially those that go over 30 minutes. But those get views in the thousands. Oliver’s online video segments get millions of views. People are smart enough to do more research after watching one of Oliver’s videos.

        1. I think you’re mistaken if you think Oliver will provoke further investigation or generate ‘exposure.’ Indeed, the entire purpose of his show and shows like it is to serve as a substitute for investigation; when you portray a person or concept as the butt of a joke, you are not encouraging an honest assessment, you are delivering a pre-made conclusion and a healthy dose of unjustified contempt for those who disagree with it.

          Do you really imagine many leftists who watch Oliver or the Daily Show to laugh at their political opponents being mocked are encouraged to look up the ideas of said opponents to get a more detailed understanding of them? I don’t see it. The whole purpose seems to be to convince people that those they disagree with aren’t merely wrong, they’re preposterous idiots not even worth considering. All Oliver did here was convince more people, including some who might have been agnostic about charter schools, that charter schools are generally a bad thing, without presenting a solid case, or suggesting there was much of an open debate about the conclusion.

          But that’s just me. Personally I think ‘political humor’ is inherently nonproductive. I don’t find it funny myself, but beyond my taste, in so far as people think the ‘political’ side of political humor is meaningful beyond just a source of laughter, it serves to reinforce preconceptions, intensify confidence in one’s views and disdain for those who disagree with them, and overall to close minds.

        2. It would have been better had he not even addressed the topic at all?

          I haven’t ever watched John Oliver, but in his screed against “charter schools”, did he ever mention the 30-40 schools in the Columbus Public School District (which receive about $6K/student more than charter schools do- not to mention bond issues every ten years) where 99.9% of 4th graders cannot read or do math at a 4th grade level?

          I guess it’s that “institutional” racism thingy because only 5 of the 7 school board members are black.

          Public Schools are simply taxpayer provided “daycare” for parents who won’t do it themselves.

    2. How about this = fuck Oliver who thinks he knows what’s best for my kids.

    3. I think Oliver has done some great work. His bit about civil asset forfeiture (complete with a wonderful cinematic production) was beyond brilliant. Never was it mentioned here on reason.

      Possibly because Reason’s been covering the issue for, oh, about 20 years, you retarded fuck.

  44. Oliver’s ignorance is typically twofold. 1) he assumes you don’t know that most charter schools aren’t religious schools so he’ll lie about that. 2) anything that’s not public/union/ top down control is bad because…..well that’s the same with everything the left abhors.

  45. Only John Oliver knows what’s best for your kids. He’s pro-choice, he chooses what’s best for your kids, and charter schools are bad for them.
    What do you know? They’re only your kids.

  46. I has a stats professor tell the class the same things, highlighting that scores are on average the same between traditional public schools and charter schools. I said that’s a great reason to support charters- you get the same results for 30% less money. He had no response.

  47. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. Im using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I do,

    ————— http://UsatodayJobs.Nypost55.com

  48. John Oliver is a cunt. Who gives a fuck what he thinks about anything?

  49. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260??0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did

    ===============>>>>>>>>>>>>>> http://www.factoryofincome.com

  50. The University of Arkansas “study” you reference here is from the School of Education Reform at UA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Walton (WalMart) Foundation–it is not credible scholarship.

    Oliver’s takedown of the charter industry was well-researched and accurate.

  51. “Oliver does a cliched piss-take”

    Pretty much what he and all his ilk do every day.

  52. I read none of this. John Oliver = nope. Not only not true, but 99% likely the opposite of what he thinks you should believe. Anyone have any links to cute cat videos or something else 99% more valuable than John Oliver and 10x the value of is opinion? Hell, I will take videos of pet rocks? Anything at all? (I know it is hard to come up with something so low in quality and yet better than JO, but man! I am bored!)

  53. “John Oliver Is Clever, Glib, and Uninformed”

    There, corrected that for you. Use it as much as you like. Hardly likely it won’t apply.

  54. that DeptEd/Mathematica RCT link is dead. the correct URL is here:

    http://journals.sagepub.com/do…..3714558292

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.