Do you want your schools run like businesses?
Do you want your schools run like businesses? Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

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Absent the most stringent regulations, charter schools suck, objectively. This is John Oliver's point in last night's episode of Last Week Tonight:

Oliver spends twenty minutes showing all the outlandish ways that charter schools run by scammers and criminals—funded by taxpayer dollars—have failed. He mostly steers clear of ideological arguments. Instead, he simply lays out the record, showing how these schools, even those that were ultimately shut down, escaped accountability just long enough to harm children.

"The problem with letting the free market decide when it comes to kids," Oliver says, "is that kids change faster than the market. And by the time it's obvious that a school is failing, futures may have been ruined."

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This is essentially the point the Washington State Supreme Court was making when it struck down the state's charter schools last year. The court said the schools were unconstitutional because they are run by appointed, not elected, boards, even though they receive taxpayer funds. They lack public accountability for public dollars.

Charter school backers (including a group funded by the wife of former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer) are in the midst of attempting to oust Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, who wrote the decision, giving more than $100,000 this summer to her campaign opponent.

Rather than get down to business and stop criminally underfunding public schools, the state legislature's response (including many Democrats) was to send yet more state dollars to charter schools to get them running again, even though those schools had plenty of backup funding from billionaires.

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