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).
This is an example of statistical deception. You could use the same argument to say that, since predatory loans are more inclusive toward minorities and the underserved, by way of providing loans to a higher percentage of racial and ethnic minorities and serving a higher percentage of economically disadvantaged people, that they’re a good thing. Not really. Charter schools are in the same boat: predatory. It’s easier to prey on the disadvantaged, so they represent a higher proportion of the targets.
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.
Once again, whether students are actually learning better is not what is being assessed here. If you consider that the same for-profit companies, such as Pearson, produce standardized tests and run charter schools, you can start to see the conflict of interest developing. By teaching specifically to the exact same tests they create, they can artificially inflate the scores of the students in their own charter programs. But, this does not constitute evidence that children are actually being educated better. It just shows that Pearson can produce a test and teach people how to pass it. This creates the illusion of achievement, using the students as a pipeline for profit.
Maybe some charter schools are good. I don’t know. I just know that they allow for immense conflicts of interest when profit enters the picture. The problems with both charter schools and for-profit testing services are far more extensive than either you or John Oliver seem to be aware but, luckily, real journalists have covered this in the past.