For years, Ted Kolderie has been talking about teacher ownership.  After writing the nation’s first charter law in MN in 1991, Ted helped teacher in Henderson set up a coop and apply for a charter.  Ted thinks educations should have a variety of professional options like doctors, lawyers, and accountants.

Today a former governor posed an interesting question, “If half the high school kids will be taking online courses in the next decade, what will it mean for unions?”  Being familiar with rural challenges, he suggested that a teacher lead effort could be part of the solution and that it would help unions adopt a new employment bargain.

Many physician belonged to a Preferred Provider Organization which negotiates with a payor.  Couldn’t teachers form a PPO (or a Preferred Teacher Organization) that signed a contract with a region, state or educational service district? Think of a STEM PTO affiliated with SREB that sold/supported upper division science and math courses across the south delivered in a combination online and onsite support.  Maybe this would be a way for great teachers to earn what they really deserve.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


  1. As one of the authors of the book, Disrupting Class, I have no reservations about predicting that on-line will be the dominant medium for learning — sooner than most people think. You asked about teachers. This is the biggest break the aspiring ones could hope for. They will no longer be the medium of knowledge, but facilitators of learning. And as the system gets disrupted, they can seize opportunities to be totally in charge of schools. As we are seeing with the early stages of this movement, teachers are willing to be accountable for results if they are in charge of the school. Unions will connect with this or no longer be relevant.


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