School choice advocates strive to provide students with access to the education options that best suit their needs. Where school choice is the law of the land, students reap the benefits of a better education.
But often forgotten in the school choice conversation are teachers who can also benefit from school choice expansion. One of the ripple effects of school choice initiatives has been a growth in “educational entrepreneurship,” characterized by the creation of alternative education options like private schools and microschools established by former public school teachers.
The Cato Institute recently hosted a panel discussion with three former public school teachers who left to embark on new opportunities within the education field. In exchange for a public school teaching position, they now serve as founders of their own private schools, tutors, and advisors for a microschool startup. They represent a large swath of teachers who support school choice policies:
A recent Morning Consult teacher survey found high levels of support for a variety of school choice programs. For education savings accounts, which let parents use a portion of state education funding for a variety of education-related expenses, 76 percent of teachers expressed support—including 73 percent of district school teachers.
Teachers cite a variety of reasons for leaving the public school system, many of which are shared by parents. Teachers grow tired of low standards, the obligation to “teach for the test,” and disparities between students who needed extra support—but weren’t getting it—and those who didn’t.
Frustrations within the public school systems often conflict with a desire to teach and a passion for doing so. Kimberley Brown, a former public school teacher and current learning coach at Kaipod encourages dissatisfied educators to seek out other options “so that love and passion of education [are] not lost.”
In a recent report, Step Up for Students and EdChoice, organizations that support school choice, highlighted a special group of educational entrepreneurs in Florida who left public schools to found private schools, microschools, homeschool-coops, and learning pods in the state. Their report titled “Leaving the Classroom, Starting a School” spotlights ten educational entrepreneurs in Florida who left their teaching career in public schools to found new educational opportunities in their state.
Due to the entrepreneurial nature of these endeavors, one of the largest obstacles facing teachers are financial constraints. Many have taken initial pay and benefit cuts as they made the transition, but have seen salary improvement as time went on. Despite these challenges, these teachers are more satisfied and happier with their transitions out of the public school system.
School choice policies are crafted with the well-being of the student in mind, but they reap generous benefits for entire communities, including teachers.
Education professionals benefit professionally from unique, educational opportunities that are in high demand thanks to education freedom across the country.