Critique of Charter Schools, Liberty Bell, Cheesesteaks, off base

Harrisburg – Aug. 25, 2016 – State Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D-Philadephia/Delaware) released the following letter that he sent to John Oliver, host of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

In the letter, Williams calls into question an assertion made in Oliver’s recent show that Pennsylvania’s “charter schools are terrible.”  Williams also took exception to Oliver’s characterization that Pennsylvania has “the worst football fans, the worst bell, and the worst regional delicacy”.

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The text of Williams’ letter to Oliver follows:

August 24, 2016

Mr. John Oliver

C/O CBS Broadcasting Center
530 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Dear John,

This an official “Dear John” letter – we have to part ways. I really do enjoy your wit and informative style, but you went too far with your segment on Pennsylvania’s charter schools.

For some of the missteps that you referenced, let’s start with the unnecessary bashing of the birthplace of freedom, when you said “remember this is the state that has the worst football fans, the worst bell, and the worst regional delicacy.” My Friend (that’s a Quaker reference), this is also the state that has TWO NFL teams that compete ever year for the RING (Okay, maybe only one). This is the state that has world renowned art museums. This is the state that has the best food, amongst which are the best cheese steaks in the world. This is the state that gave birth to Ben Franklin’s ideas and our country’s experiment with democracy. And yes, this is the state that has some of the best public charter schools, delivering quality education to children who can’t afford to move to a better district!

By the way, you also forgot to mention in your ‘charter schools are terrible’ commentary that this is also the state where traditional public schools have some major challenges (see attached). These stories range from teachers and principals caught cheating on standardized testing to embezzlement – unfortunate commentary on any institution which receives public funding, charter or traditional.

Further, forget what a biased Pennsylvanian politico who believes that families should have a choice in the education of their children has to say on the subject, refer to Stanford University’s study that gave credibility to value of charters. Their Center for Research on Education Outcomes reported in 2015 that “urban charter schools on average achieve significantly greater student success in both math and reading, which amounts to 40 additional days of learning growth in math and 28 days of additional growth in reading.” I’m just saying.

So, my man (that’s a Philly reference), I did say this was a “Dear John” letter which means: good bye. I can’t watch you anymore.though I’m probably lying to myself.

Best Fortunes,

Anthony H. Williams

State Senator – 8th District

Traditional Public School Challenges

Cheating Scandal

More than 130 Philly educators implicated in cheating, officials say

SRC to vote on terminating three principals related to cheating investigation

Former principal sentenced in Philadelphia public school test cheating scandal

Eighth Philly educator charged in standardized test cheating scandal

Biased Security Camera Contract

Whistleblower wins major victory in suit against Philadelphia School District

Jury orders Phila. schools to pay firm $2.3 million in bias suit

Philadelphia Home and School Council Embezzlement

Judge tells school embezzler: Get a job, or go to jail

Chaka Fattah, Jr. Defrauds SDP

Son of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah found guilty of defrauding banks, IRS and Philadelphia School District.

Auditor General’s Report on SDP

Auditor General DePasquale Finds Problems with Philadelphia School District’s Background Checks for School Police Officers, Bus Drivers

Ackerman Suspends Whistle-blowers

Pa. lawmaker: Ackerman suspends five whistle-blowers