Jonathan Hage’s SchoolChoiceWish Void of Candor and Humility


The publishers of redefinED  gave Charter Schools USA CEO Jonathan Hage a forum to pump up the faithful in their #schoolchoiceWISH series. Hage didn’t disappoint, but provided nothing more than a pre-game speech.

……the ed reform movement grows, but only because destiny is set by the potential of our children. We owe it to them to reaffirm that the possibilities of education reform match their limitless potential.

So, what does the Ghost of Ed Reform Future have to say?

That maximizing the possible positive impacts of education reform begins with the reformer focusing on one student at a time. Scrooge woke up to change his ways and find the heart he had so many years ago forgotten. Our movement can’t forget that WE are the revolution!

Our nation can ill afford to slow the progress that has been made. We must reinvigorate ourselves to fight for what’s right while always keeping the focus on what’s best for students. It is then that our future as a nation will be bright indeed. If, however, we allow ourselves to become just another special interest, our fate will be determined for us, our impact limited and our progress repealed. In a generation, we’ll be remembered only as a small temporary movement that tried but failed to change public education. The future is ours to make. We have all the ingredients to make it great.

So, for a future we can all look forward to, I wish for a Scrooge-like wake-up call of renewed intensity and commitment to the fight for student-centered, parent-controlled, school-based freedom across every community in America.

Hage’s “we are the change we’ve been waiting for” message was rich in hyperbole, but completely lacking in policy, proposals or facts on the ground.  Who can blame him? His outfit earned three F’s  at the three Indianapolis schools Tony Bennett handed to him – along with $6 million more of Indiana taxpayer money than he supposed to have gotten.  Meanwhile, he’s in the midst of again leveraging the gamed appeals system he helped put in place to bag another building on MacDill AFB.

Is Hage really asserting that his schools are “student-centered” and “parent-controlled?” Then the parents and kids that go to his schools must want high-stakes tests. They teach the test. Small wonder his top lobbyist, Jim Horne, is bragging about market share. Between 2010 and 2012, Hage – who owns 97 percent of CSUSA – secured almost $220 million in financing  for some new Florida schools.

CSUSA should receive credit for venturing – finally – into at-risk schools like those in Indianapolis, but he wants to have it both ways. His wife’s outrageous statement that “while we may have received an ‘F,’ our schools are most definitely not failing any longer,” is gross hypocrisy. The Hage’s promoted, used and took advantage of the “failing schools” meme to make a lot of money.  Now that they have them, they don’t want to be held accountable.

Hage’s Christmas message is completely void of candor and humility. It was  transparent cheerleading for the for-profit charter industry that’s anything but “student centered or controlled by parents.”

About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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