There is much discussion about school choice and its impact on the public education system. Public educators often discourage school choice because they fear that giving families a choice will result in resources being siphoned from public schools. It is true that school systems receive funding based on enrollment. However, school choice is not only good for families and children, it gives teachers the power that comes with competition.
Competition gives teachers more leverage
The majority of the schools in the U.S. are public schools, meaning that teachers have very limited opportunities to move into better work environments. Many teachers go from one school district to another seeking higher pay and better working conditions, but they often land in situations where classrooms are overcrowded, and where there are limited resources for the basics needed to teach and manage a classroom effectively. Additionally, in schools where there is little parent involvement, teachers are expected to double as counselors and surrogate parents. All of this overwhelms teachers so it is easy to see why many leave the field for jobs in private industry.
Low performing schools force families to seek alternatives
When wages are low and working conditions are poor, the best teachers seek other opportunities. Often, this leaves schools to staff classrooms with personnel who have marginal instructional and classroom management skills. A lack of professionalism in the classroom puts children at risk and creates an environment where children cannot excel. Parents should have the option to remove their children from low-performing schools.
School choice creates better working environments for all teachers
Private schools and charter schools are known for smaller classes. Teachers tend to receive more moral support and in some cases, better pay. As more students and teachers leave public schools for charter or private schools, public school systems will be forced to evaluate their practices. To be attractive to educators, public schools will be compelled to offer higher pay, better benefits and more resources to help teachers excel at their work.
Rather than resisting school choice, educators should embrace the benefits that choice can bring to the profession. No longer can school boards and administrators conduct business as usual. They will be forced to deal with the problems that cause parents to remove their children from public schools and the issues that drive good teachers to seek employment in other professions.