Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

John Oliver speaks about charter schools on his HBO show. (Screenshot)

Charter supporters are saying Oliver "hurt" children, Ravitch wrote, noting that this is "a familiar tactic" of intimidation. (Screenshot)

Diane Ravitch to Readers: Don't Let Charter Industry Silence John Oliver

Oliver was targeted by privatizers after criticizing charter schools in a segment of his HBO show

Nadia Prupis

What do an education historian and a late-night comedian have in common?

Shared opposition to the fraud and abuse associated with charter schools and other privatization efforts, of course.

On Thursday, longtime educator and activist Diane Ravitch encouraged her readers to start a campaign of thanks to comedian John Oliver, who devoted a segment of his HBO show Last Week Tonight on Sunday to charter schools and fraud—and is now being targeted by privatizers and other corporate propagandists on Twitter.

Charter supporters are "saying that he 'hurt' children, he savaged children," she wrote, noting that this is "a familiar tactic" of intimidation that she faced after writing about dubious test-scoring methods in New York City school a decade ago.

Ravitch called on her readers to combat the hate by tweeting and emailing Oliver messages of support. "Don't let the charter industry intimidate him," she wrote.

Watch Oliver's segment below:

"Fraud is a feature of deregulation, not a bug," Ravitch added.

"When no one is looking, some people steal. Not everyone steals, but many do. That is why Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and California are scamming taxpayers. No one is demanding accountability. Politicians get paid off by charter friends, then cripple any effort to oversee them Ohio and Michigan spend $1 billion a year to subsidize charter schools, which are lower-performing than public schools."

Education activist and associate fellow at Campaign for America's Future Jeff Bryant noted in an op-ed on Thursday that Oliver's critics miss the point of his segment by calling his arguments outdated, uninformed, and unfair.

"None of Oliver's critics seriously refuted the crux of his argument that there might be something fundamentally wrong by design, rather than by implementation or intent, with the idea that  a 'free market' of privately operated and essentially unregulated schools is a surefire way to improve education opportunities for all students," Bryant wrote.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo