Nearly 70 percent of teachers support K-12 education savings accounts (ESAs), according to a recent survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of EdChoice. This includes 84 percent of private school teachers and 67 percent of district school teachers.

ESAs are one type of school choice policy that allow parents to direct a portion of the dollars allocated for their children’s education to pre-approved educational services, such as tuition at a nonpublic school, tutoring, therapies, textbooks, and even post-secondary expenses.

The flexibility and customization ESAs offer not only empower students and parents but educators as well.

“I think one of the things we forget is that this one-size-fits-all dominant education model stifles teacher creativity and curiosity just as much as it can stifle learner creativity and curiosity,” remarked Kerry McDonald, a senior education fellow with the Foundation for Economic Education, during the Twin Cities Education Freedom Showcase held last Saturday.

Teachers, like parents, are realizing “there are other ways of approaching teaching and learning,” added McDonald, and school choice policies allow them access to those alternatives and the greater autonomy and flexibility that often accompany them.

And if the right fit isn’t available, teachers “are going off and building it,” McDonald continued. “I would say around 75 percent of [school] founders I have interviewed are former public school teachers, who had been working within the conventional system and grew fed up with the standardization and stagnation of conventional schooling and decided that they could do it better.”

McDonald shares Minnesota examples of this in her recent Forbes article, highlighting teachers and education entrepreneurs who have launched innovative K-12 learning models to meet the needs of students and give families more options — from faith-based programs to secular options and Montessori models to a more classical approach.

“Education savings accounts are unbundling education and schooling,” said McDonald. “We are getting toward a consumer-driven education market that mimics what we see in other parts of our lives. We have so much choice and personalization and innovation in every other part of our lives, and yet education has remained largely standardized and stagnant. I think that is changing.”

Interest in ESAs has exploded nationwide, and now over a dozen states offer its families the opportunity to participate in the education choice program. Minnesota is not yet one of them, but the support is there — 74 percent of Minnesotans, including 61 percent who identify as Democrats, support support school choice, with 68 percent of Minnesota adults and 76 percent of Minnesota school parents voicing specific support for ESAs.

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