In an address to a large crowd yesterday at the Westin Hotel, Mike Pence announced that 22 new charter schools will open in Indiana in the next three years. Pence spoke at a conference sponsored by Charter Schools USA, a Florida-based company operated by longtime Bush family friend Jon Hage.
Charter Schools USA (which also gives money to Jeb Bush’s “school choice” Foundation for Excellence in Education) operates several Indiana takeover schools and will be opening up a “feeder” school in Indianapolis this August. It will also be opening a new school in Clarksville.In my book Hoosier School Heist, I dedicate an entire chapter to the Bush family’s influence on school privatization in Indiana, which includes Charter Schools USA. Charter Schools USA has given at least $23,000 to politicians and others promoting school privatization in Indiana.
Charter Schools USA funded former Indiana supt. of public ed. Tony Bennett’s campaign, and Tony's wife, Tina, once worked for the for-profit school company. Charter Schools USA also gave money to the campaigns of Todd Huston, the Walmart/Amway sponsored Hoosiers for Quality Education PAC, and Mike Pence.Mike Pence, in fact, has received $6,000 from Charter Schools USA since 2012.
Charter Schools USA’s development branch, Red Apple Development, also hands money to Indiana politicians, to the tune of $17,000 so far.As State Impact Indiana notes, at the conference “Pence also touted a new grant program that provides an additional $500 in per student funding for charter schools rated A-to-C and $50 million in construction loans.”
As I explain in Hoosier School Heist, Charter Schools USA has had its eyes on expanding in Indiana for quite some time, using its political connections. It looks like Jon Hage and Charter Schools USA are liking the Hoosier state a lot more now.