The best summary of the issues and challenges of looking at charter schools today

(image from Wikimedia Commons)

I recognize this is over a month after it went up, but I just saw it, and maybe you haven’t – John Oliver’s bit on charter schools.

Even if you’re not a huge fan of Oliver, I implore you to watch this… because it’s absolutely spot-on.

Due to a lot of circumstances – being in the military, children with special needs – I’ve had the opportunity to experience (as a parent) four public school systems and four charter school systems – including one that utilized distance learning, and a private school system, and also homeschooled for a while.

There were public schools that were great – and ones that sucked … though public schools usually sucked was almost always due to a lack of funding – ironic, since the trend is to shuffle money away to charter schools.

And there were charter schools that were amazing… and a hell of a lot that sucked.

In my experience – and again, see above; I’ve directly experienced more school systems than most people – the variation between charter school to charter school is much much greater than the variation between public school and public school. In one case, the difference between two schools run by the same company went from “amazing” to “okay, I guess, maybe?”.

I’m not saying that charter schools or public schools are all bad or all good. In fact, that’s really the point here. They’re treated as a huge monolithic ideological entity, and we need a lot more realism and nuance whenever we talk about them.

Because the ultimate thing that gets lost whenever you start talking about treating education like a competitive business – and Oliver nails this – is that when you get a bad pizza… you can just order another one right away.

You cannot do that with a child’s education.

Take the time to watch.

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