that was weird
The D.C. school system had a pitch-perfect response after John Oliver made #DCPublicSchools trend on Twitter
Public education got some unexpected attention Sunday night when John Oliver asked viewers watching the Emmys to make #DCPublicSchools trend on Twitter.
Oliver had been inspired by comedian Dave Chappelle, who shouted out the school system he attended before he announced an award winner. Within a minute of Oliver’s request, the hashtag was officially trending.
Most of the tweets had nothing to do with schools in Washington, D.C.
Here are a few that did, starting with this pitch-perfect one from the official D.C. Public Schools account:
Oliver’s surreal challenge was far from the first time that the late-show host has made education a centerpiece of his comedy — over time, he has pilloried standardized testing, school segregation, and charter schools.
Nor was it the first education hashtag to take center stage at an awards show: #PublicSchoolProud, which emerged as a response to new U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, got a shoutout during the Oscars in February.
And it also is not the first time this year that D.C. schools have gotten a surprise burst of attention. The Oscars were just a week after DeVos drew fire for criticizing the teachers she met during her first school visit as secretary — to a D.C. public school.
Week In Review
Week in review: A ‘poor choice of words’ from the state schools boss, Grosse Pointe considers lightening up
The state superintendent was under fire this week after telling a TV interviewer that school choice had taken the state “backwards.” It was a comment he later called a “poor choice of words.”
Scroll down for more on that story and the rest of the week’s Detroit schools news. That includes insight into why Grosse Pointe is reviewing its tough enforcement of its residency rules and the latest on Detroit’s new schools boss, Nikolai Vitti. He was the subject of a major Chalkbeat story this week that looked at his plan to bring order to a district that he says lacked basic financial and academic systems.
Also, if you weren’t able to attend the forum featuring Vitti and the Citizens Research Council this week, you can watch the full video here. If you’re still looking for more, please tune in to American Black Journal on Sunday when I’ll be talking about Detroit schools.
Oh, and we have some exciting news: We’re hiring! If you know any thoughtful reporters who’d be interested in covering one of the most important stories in American education, please tell them to get in touch. Thanks for reading!
The Detroit schools boss
The state schools boss
- Michigan schools boss Brian Whiston stressed in his clarification about his controversial school choice remarks that he’s a strong supporter of choice but believes giving parents options can’t be the only fix for schools.
- Whiston’s comments come as advocates lament declining test scores across the state. Among them: a news publisher who blasts Lansing for fiddling while public schools “go to hell” and an advocate who urged Michigan parents to stop telling themselves that their child’s school is probably fine. “In fact,” she writes, “Michigan is one of only five states that has declined in actual performance in fourth-grade reading since 2003 for all students.”
- Still, the head of the state board of education says it’s “irresponsible” to suggest that Michigan schools are in crisis.
- The school choice supporters who were miffed by Whiston’s comments are also still steamed about a New York Times Magazine piece on charter schools last week. One critic said the article failed to tell the whole story about the challenges to education in Highland Park and Detroit. A news site that strongly supports choice scrutinized the way the story characterized the number of for-profit charter schools in Michigan.
In Detroit and across its borders
- Grosse Pointe schools officials are reviewing their aggressive approach to enforcing residency rules that keep Detroiters and other non-residents out of the district’s schools. In the past three years, the district has spent $74,528 on investigations and legal fees related to out-of-district students and has made all parents jump through burdensome hoops to prove they live in the district.
- A Detroit teacher (and Chalkbeat reader advisory board member) set out to talk with other educators to “build a more nuanced narrative of Detroit schools.” Among teachers he featured is Janine Scott who the writer discovered when she appeared last spring in a Chalkbeat/Skillman Foundation “Story Booth.” (If you’re a parent, educator or student who wants to be featured in a future Story Booth, please let us know).
- A principal who moved a Detroit charter school from the 8th percentile on state rankings to the 51st explains how it’s done.
- Detroit’s main district plans to spend up to $57,000 to establish Parent Teacher Associations in all of its 106 schools.
- The head of a Detroit high school engineering program explains how it aims to change lives.
- An organization that places young adults in Detroit schools to provide support got a major gift from Quicken Loans that will help it expand.
- The construction boom has highlighted the shortcomings of the city school system.
- Wayne State University’s leaders pushed back against an article last week that highlighted a dramatic decline in African American enrollment — particularly graduates of Detroit schools.
In other news