Edupreneurs | September 12, 2023

Empower⁠i⁠ng Edupreneurs: Unlock⁠i⁠ng ⁠t⁠he Po⁠t⁠en⁠t⁠⁠i⁠al of Educa⁠t⁠⁠i⁠on Transforma⁠t⁠⁠i⁠on ⁠i⁠n Amer⁠i⁠ca

By Michael Donnelly 

In today’s rapidly changing world, we must reimagine and transform the approach to education. The traditional one-size-fits-all model no longer meets the needs of students or prepares them for the challenges of the future. Fortunately, a new wave of innovation is sweeping the country, driven by visionary education entrepreneurs — edupreneurs — who are revolutionizing the way we educate our children. 

These edupreneurs are creating learning environments that respect the dignity and unique talents, interests, and aspirations of each student. Learning pods, microschools, hybrid schools, and homeschool co-ops are just a few examples of the diverse range of educational options being pioneered by these educational leaders. Their innovative approaches are empowering families with choice and control over their children’s education while fostering a love for learning. 

However, despite the transformative impact of these ventures, they often face significant hurdles in the form of complex and outdated regulations. Existing laws were not designed with the freedom and flexibility sought by these pioneers. From tax issues and business formation to licensing complexities, the road to starting an education venture is riddled with unnecessary obstacles. Edupreneurs find themselves entangled in a web of outdated childcare, zoning, fire and safety rules, and compulsory attendance laws that are ill-suited to their innovative educational models. 

The consequences of these regulatory challenges are far-reaching. We have seen edupreneurs being threatened, shut down, and fined by the government, simply for daring to offer an alternative to the status quo. This stifling of educational innovation not only limits the opportunities available to students, but also hampers the progress of education as a country. In my own county in West Virginia, a microschool in a church building that was otherwise safe and had met relevant fire codes was told they could not operate with a handful of children, unless they installed a brand new sprinkler system in the entire building. In Hawaii, an education entrepreneur operating a Waldorf-style educational program was told that unless it registered as a child care facility, it would be fined tens of thousands of dollars.  

If we are going to meet the needs of students and families, we must get rid of burdensome red tape and regulators must adopt a different attitude towards these new innovative educational environments. Recognizing the critical need to support and empower edupreneurs, initiatives such as yes. every kid. foundation.’s Edupreneur Support have emerged. It provides vital resources, guidance, and a supportive community for edupreneurs navigating the complex regulatory landscape such as personalized assistance from an experienced legal team, state-specific knowledge tools, and access to a network of like-minded entrepreneurs. By participating in these programs, edupreneurs gain the confidence and expertise needed to overcome regulatory obstacles and realize their transformative visions for education. 

Edupreneurs are not just transforming the lives of individual students; they are reshaping the future of education in America. The traditional model of standardized education, descended from a Prussian ideology of control and efficiency, no longer serves our diverse population. We need education that respects the dignity of every individual, cultivates critical thinking skills, and fosters a love for learning. 

Technology, innovation, and cultural shifts are demanding a new approach to education—one that aligns with the principles of our founding and embraces the potential of each student. Edupreneurs, driven by their passion for educational freedom, are at the forefront of this movement. They navigate the intricate web of regulations that inhibit education transformation, driven by a vision to provide individualized learning opportunities. 

Everyday education entrepreneurs are at the forefront of this new approach to education that leans on new technologies that make information and learning available to anyone anywhere. For example, Khan Academy’s growing content library makes mastering challenging concepts simple. Online education providers like Portals Academy curate lesson plans, reading lists, and  curriculum for the entire K-12 journey. Organizations like Classical Conversations, Kaipod, Outschool, Prenda, and Acton Academy are among a growing network of education entreprenuers who are joining together to support one another in diverse pedagogical approaches. 

The movement for education freedom is gaining momentum, attracting attention, and becoming a national force. It is essential that legal thought leaders and freedom advocates rally together to create a republic of knowledge, underpinned by science and dedicated to transforming education. We are shifting paradigms, elevating new opportunities, and collaborating to advance transformative ideas and policies. 

To unlock the full potential of education, we must unleash a permissionless innovative environment that nurtures and supports edupreneurs. We must reform existing regulations that inhibit their ability to deliver individualized learning experiences. By championing the cause of edupreneurs, we can ensure that every child has access to a truly transformative education—one that inspires a lifelong love for learning and equips them with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. 

The time for education transformation in America is now. Together we must empower edupreneurs, provide them with the necessary tools and resources, and advocate for regulatory reforms that will unlock the full potential of education in America. With a commitment to educational freedom and innovation, we can build a brighter future for our children. 

Michael Donnelly is Vice President of yes. every kid. foundation. and leads a legal center to support edupreneurs.