Teachers, education choices set you free
Florida has been a national pacemaker for a quarter century when it comes to thoughtful public education policies. However, there is a notable trend that has received little attention so far. Educators as well as students and families are benefiting from expanded educational options in Florida.
Tens of thousands of Florida educators are teaching in private, charter and virtual schools that didn’t exist a generation ago. Even more compelling is the growing number of former public school teachers who have left the classroom to start innovative private schools. More recently, he has founded his own micro-school, hybrid his homeschool, and a homeschool co-op.
One of the district teachers of the year started a microschool based on a cross-disciplinary approach called Arts Integration. Her former statewide ESE Teacher of the Year co-founded a school for students with autism. It can serve about 50 students, but two years later, without any marketing, her 200 households applied. Another acclaimed former public school teacher co-founded her 400-student school in Tampa, and four years later her 400-students in Jacksonville. established her second campus.
Educational choices made all of that possible.
Income-based school choice scholarships in Florida are currently worth approximately $7,700 each and are available to approximately 70% of students. Education savings accounts for students with special needs are worth approximately $10,000 each. Giving families the ability to customize their children’s education creates demand for schools and services that meet their needs. Educators are empowered to meet that demand.
It is now entirely feasible for teachers to create their own models that align with teaching and learning ideals and accommodate the growing number of families in Florida who have the power to choose them.
This encouraging increase in choice and entrepreneurship is consistent with a trend toward more sober. A growing number of public school teachers are dissatisfied with their jobs.
A national survey of public school teachers commissioned by the Winston School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack University and conducted by the Education Week Research Center in early 2022 Teacher satisfaction is at an all-time lowOnly 12% of respondents said they were ‘very satisfied’ with their jobs, down from 62% in 2008 and well below the low of 33% in 1986.
The reasons for this recession are myriad and complex. But more options open the door to potential solutions.
In this regard, Florida’s teacher-turned-entrepreneurs are trailblazers.that’s why step up for students When Ed Choice We collected 10 of them for our focus group. I wanted to know what their motivations were, what hurdles they faced, and what solutions would help clear those hurdles.We’ve compiled their insightful answers in this new report. here.
Just like parents, there are endless reasons why educators need learning options. It’s worth noting, however, that nearly all of the focus group participants were frustrated that their child was struggling with the system they were working with. Others have said they aim to create models that are useful not only for students, but also for teachers.
A very real hurdle is keeping more teachers off the road to freedom. It is difficult to compete with public sector retirement plans. Finding startup capital is not easy. And perhaps there is no greater headache than navigating zoning and building codes to access suitable and affordable facilities.
However, these hurdles are not insurmountable. Policy makers will spur more innovation if they turn their attention to mitigation.
Meanwhile, teacher entrepreneurs continue to find solutions for themselves.
During the focus group sessions, it was amazing to see how often participants nodded in agreement on what turned out to be a common challenge. However, because the entrepreneurs were unaware of each other’s existence, their collective wisdom had never been shared.
That is starting to change. Every day, awareness grows, networks form, and more teachers learn from their peers who have gone through it.
Teachers, if you love teaching but feel stifled by the system, you have options. The door to control your destiny has never been more open.
Rhonda Dry is the Senior Director of Customer Experience for Step Up For Students, a non-profit organization that helps administer Florida’s Education Choice Scholarship Program. She’s also a former classroom teacher and principal, and co-authored her new report, ‘How to Stay There, but Not Stay There’: Leaving the Classroom to Start School.