Jon Hage Discusses Importance of Charter Schools and Educational Choice

By: Florida Chamber of Commerce

Learn more about charter schools and why it’s important for parents to be able to choose the best learning environment for their success, and how businesses can benefit from those choices.

“What the charter school community has really done is focus a lot on where the need is and that’s where parents and students are getting the most benefit.”

-Jon Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA, Florida Chamber Board of Director member

At the Florida Chamber of Commerce, we believe parents deserve to be able to choose the best learning environment for their students to succeed. That’s the same mission Jon Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA, stands by. Charter schools, as Hage explains, are independently run public schools that seek to provide something innovative and different from the traditional school setting, particularly for children who don’t fit into the traditional school system set up.

“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,” said Hage. “A charter school allows for students to go to the school that is actually best for them- maybe the curriculum, or the size of the classroom or the uniform policy or whatnot. So these are the things that are uniquely designed to give the parent the choice and the student the custom education that best fits their learning style and the results that they are looking for.”

As the Florida Chamber seeks to break the cycle of generational poverty, charter schools are one way that Florida can create greater economic opportunity.

“Charter schools actually serve a greater number of students at-risk and of low income than the traditional system, and that’s probably mostly because the parents who are seeking alternatives for their children are desperate and hungry and looking for something where that child may not be succeeding in the traditional system.. They may not be challenged enough, or maybe they are falling between the cracks on a learning style or a different way of working with teachers,” said Hage. “So what the charter school community has really done is focus a lot on where the need is and that’s where parents and students are getting the most benefit.We are proud to be a part of that.”

Why does Florida’s business community need to be involved in the education of today’s kindergartners? According to Hage, the benefits are twofold.

 

“It’s incredibly important… only education can really turn a child into someone successful later in life,” said Hage. “What we have seen in Florida for example, the students who are going through our charter schools have a much higher rate of graduation. In fact we have a 96 percentile graduation rate and 94 percentile of those going on to two or four year colleges… but we are also finding that the difference is for the employers. There are two benefits really. One is that the employers often works with these charter schools and they support them and get involved in starting them in their communities. They also get the benefit of getting a highly educated workforce that’s interning with these business and ultimately going into colleges without remedial education and then ultimately graduating and working for the vibrant companies across Florida.”

For Hage and the nearly 9,000 team member across the 85 Charter Schools USA facilities in the country, free enterprise is more than a phrase.

“It’s really about how we educate students, making sure that students today have critical thinking skills, economic understanding and the literacy around true free market enterprise to allow them to grow into the kinds of jobs and opportunities that we require in a democratic society,” said Hage. “Free markets really benefit when we have free minds and people who are capable of educating students in a way that they can take ownership of their future.”