Yes, Even Teachers Like School Choice
Can you think of a time when you had a view or a position on something that you were sure all your colleagues at work would disagree with? I don’t mean something like saying Nicolas Cage or Keanu Reaves are great actors, but something that matters . . . like a policy or a political stance. In these situations, our normal inclination is to just keep it to ourselves. This is particularly true when the view you hold does not impact the work you do. No need to rock the boat!
I find that this burying-your-head-in-the-sand approach often happens in public institutions, such as universities and public schools. The interesting thing is that when you decide to speak up you often find there are others who agree with you. They were just keeping their head down like you.
Not long ago, I had coffee with a retired public school superintendent. We are told by the press that all the education associations are completely against open enrollment, where students are allowed to transfer to other public school districts. But the superintendent told me that he had no problem with open enrollment. In fact, he said a lot of superintendents were fine with it. (These may have been superintendents in districts that would gain students, but that is beside the point.) Yet, superintendents who support open enrollment appear to be keeping their heads down.
I can understand why. It takes a lot of nerve to speak out against your colleagues. When I was a public school teacher and I voiced support for school choice policies, I got called to the superintendent’s office. While she framed it as just a discussion, it was clearly an attempt to intimidate me into keeping my opinions to myself.
Even now when I write in favor of school choice, I often get pushback from public school educators. Their messages effectively say, “How could you?”
The fact is a lot of teachers support school choice. They just won’t say it publicly. Consider this: teachers unions regularly push for policies that will allow teachers to enroll their children in the school they teach in, even if the teacher doesn’t live in the district. This is school choice. Teachers are supportive of other forms of school choice as well. In a 2022 poll of 1,000 K-12 teachers (public and private), 77% of those polled were supportive of education savings accounts. A majority of teachers in the poll were supportive of open enrollment and charter schools.
If you are a teacher and you support school choice policies, you are not alone. You don’t have to hide your views. Let that school choice flag fly.