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Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Part I: The New Teacher Economy

Educators are leaving their dream jobs in droves. Some are leaving their schools or districts for the same reasons about half as many annually leave, including poor working conditions, unreasonable demands, inadequate support, and unrealistic expectations. Pandemic schooling accounts for the other half.

In a nationwide poll of educators, NEA found that 28 percent said the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more likely to retire early or leave the profession, a rate that could far worsen the U.S.’s shortage of qualified teachers. That number includes a significant number of new or young teachers—one in five teachers with less than 10 years’ experience. It also includes 40 percent of teachers with 21 to 30 years’ experience, who are presumably leaders and mentors on their school campuses, and 55 percent of those with more than 30 years.

A November Horace Mann Educators Corporation survey of K-12 educators in the United States found about 27% of educators are now considering leaving the classroom or taking a leave of absence due to the pandemic.

But not all of them are leaving the profession. As a result, the teacher economy is undergoing significant change. The same could be said of the student economy, now that a new category of students has emerged.

Leaving the brick and mortar classroom for the virtual classroom has become a reality for some teachers who were forced to teach at a distance this year and have come to realize that teaching online provides location and schedule flexibility and freedom.

Startups like Outschool, Varsity Tutor, and Prisma, are competing with traditional online learning schools, mostly charter schools, in the race to secure their share of the new teacher economy. By most accounts, the new migration to distance teaching is due the legitimization and subsequently new found respect for online education.

While most PK-12 teachers are anxious to return to campus, teachers who seek a work-from-home (and live anywhere), quality-of-life existence are eager to embark on an online teaching career.

The future appears to be shifting to rewarding tech-savvy people. The post-pandemic world we all inherit promises to be complex, globalized, plural and highly technological, and unpredictable too.

Parents who covet choice and the policymakers who support them want flexibility, personalization, and options that fit their lifestyle, now that so many of them have come to learn new ways of doing old things. Education among those things.

Hybrid learning is here to stay. Public school districts would be smart to get into the market now. Experts predict a new teacher economy will materialize as a result it.

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