Sacramento Charter School Wins $100,000 Video Contest

The Center for Education Reform (CER) today announced that Sacramento California’s Natomas Charter School had been named the winner of CER’s “Hey John Oliver Back Off My Charter School” video contest.

“Natomas Charter School is proud of its 25 year history of providing quality educational programs for students who may not fit in the traditional box. We’re successful because our students are successful. This contest illustrates that not all charter schools can be put in one box either.” Dr. Ting Sun, Natomas Charter School co-founder and Executive Director.

“John, the world realizes that education is an archaic model that needs updating – that’s why we have charter schools. We experiment, challenge, create – we pioneer change in hopes that other traditional schools will follow suit,” a Natomas student said in the winning video submission.

The contest was launched in August in response to a misleading and poorly contrived segment of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, hosted by comedian John Oliver, which had the potential to cause serious damage to the most promising public education reform since public schools were created in the 1850s. “Oliver’s show cast charter schools in simplistic terms, and parodied the hard work of millions to create meaningful, personalized opportunities for students,” said CER Founder and CEO Jeanne Allen. “Charter schools uniquely serve students often not well-served by traditional public schools — which most students would have no choice but to attend were it not for the choices charters offer.”

More than 250 video submission from across the country were received by the Center. They painted a picture of diversity in school, programming, student body, location, demographics and message. The majority of schools explained how their schools meet the needs of their students better that the other schools they have in their community.

“That’s what it is about,” said Allen. “Creating schools that meet the needs of students, not making students fit into schools that were created long before their needs were known.”

Natomas Charter School, founded in 1993, serves 1,574 students from kindergarten through 12th grade (65 percent of its students are minorities and 26 percent are from low-income families). It has been designated a California Gold Ribbon School, is one of the top-ten of schools in Sacramento, and is listed in the top ten percent of charter schools in the nation by US News and World Report. Ninety-seven percent of Natomas graduates are accepted into four-year universities.

“It’s amazing that the video that most demonstrates the folly of John Oliver’s rant also happens to come from one of the pioneers of the charter school movement, and one that is hugely successful,” added Allen. “Although John Oliver’s ‘report’ was unfair, the sliver lining is that it gave charters the chance to speak up and demonstrate how much these schools matter.”

About the Center for Education Reform
Founded in 1993, the Center for Education Reform aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that the conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education.