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:
— DC Public Schools (@dcpublicschools) September 18, 2017
— TNTP (@TNTP) September 18, 2017
I will never not support a shout-out to an urban public school system. #DCPublicSchools
— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) September 18, 2017
I can think of lots of reasons for #dcpublicschools to trend on Twitter – have two of them upstairs in bed now
— Rick Klein (@rickklein) September 18, 2017
Excited to see #DCPublicSchools trending but also hoping everyone catches enough 💤 s on a school night (get off Twitter 😝)!
— Girlology® (@girlology) September 18, 2017
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.