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Local charter school responds to TV host’s criticizism

by Monica Jacquez, KXTV
ABC 10
November 16, 2016

Natomas Charter School in Sacramento is getting national attention after HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver launched a piece on failed charter schools, ultimately criticizing how they are run.

“If we are going to treat charter schools like pizza shops, we should monitor them at least as well as we do pizzerias,” said John Oliver in the segment, which aired in August.

In response to the television comedian’s piece, the Center for Education Reform held a video competition called, ‘Hey John Oliver, Back Off My Charter School.’ Natomas Charter School entered the contest and won first place.

“I honestly couldn’t believe it, not because the video didn’t deserve to win or anything, but it was a national competition,” Samira Darabzand said.

Darabzand is a high school senior at Natomas Charter School Performing and Fine Arts Academy. She, along with a dozen students took part in the contest, which landed the school a $100,000 prize.

“The thing that got me the most about John Oliver’s video was that it was an unfair representation of a very large system of education,” said Matthew DeMeritt.

DeMeritt is the coordinator of the Performing Arts Fine Arts Academy. He wrote the script and organized the video.

“I feel like our voices and our student’s voices really needed to be heard,” DeMeritt said.

In the end, DeMeritt said it was an educational experience for the students.

“Knowing that we got the recognition that the school deserved, it really meant the world to me and the whole school,” Darabzand said.

As for the $100,000 prize, school leaders said they are still trying to figure out how to best spend the money.

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