Alan G. Hassenfeld, former chairman and chief executive officer of Hasbro Toys, is chairman of Hassenfeld Family Initiatives has come out publicly in the Providence Journal on the side of Rhode Island’s charter schools, condemning anti-charter bills before the legislature and praising Governor Raimondo for her promise to veto them if they reach her desk.
Too often in Rhode Island our government does not do enough to promote changes that will have the potential to expand opportunity and improve services for our citizens because those changes go against the status quo. As a former business leader, I’ve always thought it necessary to stick my neck out to speak out when this happens. It is happening. In January, the House of Representatives passed a bill by an overwhelming margin that would effectively end the expansion of charter schools. This bill sends the wrong message to businesses and families looking for change and opportunity. Why would we seek to prevent more students from attending schools that are doing such great work?
Hassenfeld, rightly, hones in on the stubbornness of the all too powerful status quo protectors. He questions their insistence on clinging to an educational monopoly while ignoring the incontrovertible evidence that kids (especially low income children of color) are being well served in these schools.
I’ve always struggled to comprehend the stubborn will of many who stand in the way of positive innovations in education. Charters, and the dedicated public school teachers who work within and lead them, have been able to adapt and continuously improve their work. It’s time we move on from rejecting change wholesale, embrace the expansion of charters, and encourage the use of their successful practices in our traditional public schools.
Insanity. That is the word Hassenfeld uses to describe Rhode Island’s long history in education of doing the same thing and expecting different results. He couldn’t be more right.