Charter Schools Giving Parents Educational Choices
Charter schools are making state-run schools evolve
Jonathan K. Hage comes from a long and distinguished line of educators. His mother and father were both public school teachers, and in their house, public education was considered a great place and perceived as an equalizer across society.
As the founder, chairman, president and CEO of Charter Schools USA, Inc. Jonathan Hage has seen the long evolution in charter school programs. In 1988 none other than the president of the American Federation of Teachers Albert Shanker came out in support of what he termed “Schools of choice.” The first charter school opened in Minnesota three years later, and the modern notion of private charter schools was born.
Mr. Hage says the most significant change he has seen is the “complication” that has come with greater scrutiny. “With a charter application today, when you go into almost any state, and you’re well-intended parents, or you’re a non-profit or a community leadership group; someone who wants to file an application to start a charter school,” he says. “That application used to be 50-70 pages of fine detail: What’s the financials? What are the operating costs? What does the curriculum look like?”
But as he notes, those simpler days are long gone. “Our average application today is over 500 pages long,” he says.
While charter schools are still subject to fewer rules, regulations and statutes than traditional state schools, they also receive far less public funding per student. Most People really don’t know or even realize the actual cost per student in public schools. “Only the private school parents recognize that,” Hage says, “because they have to actually pay that bill.” Because of that transparency, parents are more involved because they want to make sure that their money is being used wisely and efficiently.
As a result, everyone connected with the charter school, from parents and administration down to individual teachers and students, are more involved and held accountable for student outcomes. “Traditional schools want more parental involvement. Charter schools need it. They live off of it. Schools of choice ─ that’s the whole idea,” Hage says.
But for the educational system as a whole, Jonathan Hage sees the broken monopoly of the old public school system as an advantageous result for everyone in the long run. After all, the most common response to the challenge is school districts changing and evolving to compete with specialized charter schools in their area. And when charter schools can change the narrative on education, Hage says, that’s good for everyone.
About Jonathan Hage:
Mr. Jonathan K. Hage is the Founder, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Charter Schools USA, Inc. Mr. Hage served for the last two years as the Founding President and Chairman of the board of NCEP, based in Washington, D.C.
During the last Presidential election, Mr. Hage was appointed to the National Steering Committee of the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign as an Education Advisor and spokesperson. During the 1992 Presidential race, Mr. Hage was a Speech Researcher for President George H. W. Bush. Mr. Hage served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Strategies Group, Inc. Prior to ISG, Mr. Hage served as a Director of Research for Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future where he worked on education, tax and welfare policy reform. He has also served on multiple boards including Broward County’s Charter Task Force and the State of Florida’s Charter Review Panel appointed by the Senate President.
Mr. Hage served in the United States Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserves as a commissioned officer in the Special Forces (Green Berets), from 1986 to 1996 and was discharged honorably. Mr. Hage serves on the Board of Directors for Goodwill Industries, ChildNet and Associated Industries of Florida. He wrote and researched articles on state reform issues and has regularly testified before the Florida House and Senate. Mr. Hage also assisted in the early development of the first charter school in Florida, the Liberty City Charter School, a collaboration between Jeb Bush and T. Willard Fair, President of the Miami Urban League.
From 1990 to 1994, Mr. Hage served as Research Associate in Foreign Policy and Defense Studies for The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based think-tank, where he researched, wrote and published public policy studies and articles. He was quoted in Education Week, Fox News and other national media. Mr. Hage holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado and an M.A.L.S. specializing in International Affairs and Economics from Georgetown University. Follow Jonathan Hage on
This article was originally published in the Huffington Post .