Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Handing all York, PA schools over to right-wing charter privateer

Charter Schools USA president and CEO Jon Hage 

Florida-based for-profit, Charter Schools USA is moving on poverty-stricken York, PA and now threatens a takeover that would turn the entire school district into privately-run charters.

The York School Board vote on charterizing all district schools was tabled yesterday until December 17th in the face of parent and community protests. Many have threatened to boycott the district if the vote passed.

According to ABC27 News,
While many students who spoke at the meeting focused on losing the programs they love, the harsh reality of the situation exists in its own back story . Struggling test scores and dwindling finances forced the district into state receivership more than two years ago. Back then the state agreed to an internal recovery plan and standards that were not met since then. 
Without improvement and lacking a contract agreement with the state teacher's union, becoming the first city in Pennsylvania without traditional public schools has become a real possibility in the past several months. 
Charter Schools USA is based in Ft. Lauderdale and is one of the biggest for-profit operators. It's founder and CEO, Jon Hage comes out of the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank funded by the Koch Bros., as well as the  Foundation for Florida Future, another conservative group founded by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Charter Schools USA currently generates revenue of $285 million, operating 70 schools across the country and is also affiliated with Chicago charter operators Chicago International Charter Schools.

Everywhere CSUSA has gone, the company has left a trail of conflict and law suits. More here.

The Indy Star reported in July that troubles are emerging just two years after the Indiana State Board of Education — spurred on by then-Superintendent Tony Bennett — turned four persistently low-achieving Indianapolis Public Schools and one in Gary over to independent operators including Hage's CSUSA's,

Hage’s Charter School USA adventure into Indiana hasn’t gone well from the start, according to Florida-based blogger, Scathing Purple Musings.

York, PA parents protest charter takeover. 
The three schools received an “F” in their first year of operation,  prompting Sherry Hage to outrageously claim that “while we may have received an ‘F,’ our schools are most definitely not failing any longer.” Moreover, a December 2012 story reported that the Hage’s received $6 million more than they should have from then Superintendent of Public Education Tony Bennett. Just six month after the Hage’s deal with Bennett for Charter Schools USA was revealed to have no profit limits nor minimum classroom expenditure levels, Red Apple Development, the real estate development arm of Charter Schools USA donated $5000 to Bennett’s campaign.

Hage's company was sued by Principal Katherine Murphy of the Aventura City of Excellence School and awarded $155 million in damages by a jury for wrongful termination, only to have Judge Rosa Rodriguez reversed the Jury's verdict, finding in favor of Aventura and CSUSA.

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