John Oliver Blasts Philly Charter Schools on Last Week Tonight

Oliver gives Philadelphia magazine a shout-out and mentions a Philly charter school that once functioned as an illegal nightclub on the weekends.

In the most recent episode of “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver takes a swing at Philly charter schools.

In Philadelphia, Oliver says, at least 10 executives or top administrators at charter schools have pleaded guilty in the last decade to charges like fraud, obstruction of justice and misusing funds.

“Which may be why Philly magazine advises parents, don’t forget to Google any schools you’re looking at to make sure they weren’t once unexpectedly shut down or run by a CEO who pleaded guilty to theft,” Oliver says, laughing.

Throughout the episode, Oliver blasts charter schools around the country for their tendencies to “overstate their successes, syphon off talented students and divert precious resources within a school district.”

It’s a controversial topic, as charter schools have received their fair share of criticism (and then some) as well as support. Either way, they’re spreading like wildfire – there are now almost 6,700 charter schools educating almost 3 million students in the country, Oliver says.

But Oliver references a particular controversy surrounding Philadelphia’s Harambee Institute of Science and Technology Charter School, which once functioned as an illegal nightclub by night.

If it sounds messy, it’s because it was, and not just because the school combined what Oliver called “the two most vomit-prone populations in the world.” In 2013, Harambee’s former CEO, Masai Skief, pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $80,000 from the school.

Oliver says the dysfunction in Philadelphia is partially because of Pennsylvania’s lax charter school law, which the state auditor once called the worst in the country, despite a Pew study that claims that Pennsylvania’s rules aren’t much different from other states’.

Of course, Oliver then takes it all a step further.

“It’s not like having the worst something is new for Pennsylvania,” Oliver says.”Remember, this is a state that has the worst football fans, the worst bell and the worst regional delicacy.”

“Yes, if I wanted Cheez Whiz on my steak sandwich,” he continues, “I’d eat at kiddie cafeteria, the restaurant run by six year olds.”

You can view the full episode here.

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