Jon Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA, recently advocated for charter schools as a viable and innovative alternative to customary public institutions that also serve the needs of children who thrive in a different setting.
“At the end of the day, the charter school movement started with the idea that the parent deserves a choice in where their child goes to school,” Hage, a Florida Chamber board member, said. “A charter school allows for students to go to the school that is actually best for them.”
The Florida Chamber believes in halting the pattern of “generational poverty,” and supporting the charter school movement as a way of building economic opportunity in the Sunshine State. Hage said that charter schools fill the need for families at risk, with low income, and/or children with different learning styles.
Charter Schools USA has found that charter students have a higher high school graduation rate than their counterparts, with 94 percent attending college. Noting that the community connection is intrinsic to success, Hage depicted the system as a win-win enterprise.
Hage described two advantages to charter school education. First, employers tend to work with, support and become involved with the schools, resulting in internships and built-in relationships. Secondly, he said, the connection results in a highly educated workforce with a natural commitment to remaining in state, “ultimately graduating and coming and working for the vibrant companies across Florida.”
Charter Schools USA comprises almost 9,000 members and 85 charter schools nationwide.
“It’s really about how we educate students, making sure that students today have the economic understanding and the literacy around true free market enterprise in order to be able to grow into the kinds of jobs and opportunities that we require in a democratic society,” Hage said. “Free markets really benefit when we have free minds and people that are capable of educating students in a way that they can take ownership of their future.”