State Policy Network
New SPN report outlines how states can encourage education entrepreneurship
Education entrepreneurs are creating innovative K-12 learning options for families, including microschools, learning pods, and co-learning spaces

To heed parents’ growing demand for more education options, states across the country are adopting parental choice policies, including Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and scholarship or voucher programs. These reforms redirect education tax dollars to parents so they can put that money towards alternative education options, including private school.

These policies empower parents to choose the best learning environment for their child, whether that’s public school, private school, or even homeschool. However, there are additional policies states can adopt to encourage more education options for families.

In a new report, State Policy Network Education Policy Fellow Kerry McDonald outlines how states can encourage education entrepreneurs who create innovative K-12 learning options for students, including microschools, learning pods, co-learning spaces, homeschool-based learning organizations, and virtual and hybrid schools.

These alternative learning models are sprouting up across the country—driven in large part by parents and education entrepreneurs who were dissatisfied with the limited choices they have in education.

Despite their growing popularity, the education entrepreneurs behind these innovative learning options often face significant regulatory barriers that prevent them from expanding their product to more families.

Burdensome regulations are preventing students from accessing innovative learning options

State Policy Network sat down with more than two dozen K-12 education entrepreneurs to better understand the challenges these startups face and develop solutions that allow education entrepreneurs to expand their product so even more students can access these alternative learning options.

McDonald added:

“Despite regulatory hurdles and startup challenges, education entrepreneurs are pushing ahead to introduce and expand new K–12 learning models to replace outdated ones. But it shouldn’t be so hard for them to do so. State-level policy reforms geared at reducing regulations and encouraging small business startups could propel the newfound national momentum for entrepreneurship to even greater heights, opening up more learning possibilities.”

Promoting and supporting education entrepreneurship and innovation: 7 policy recommendations for states

As outlined in the report, below are seven policy recommendations that will help expand K–12 learning options for more families:

  1. Reduce early childhood care licensing requirements for emerging learning models
  2. Expand exemptions to childcare licensing regulations
  3. Create “innovation tracks” for alternative licensing
  4. Ease zoning restrictions
  5. Expand homeschooling freedoms
  6. Make it easier to start a private school
  7. Loosen compulsory school attendance laws

State think tanks can encourage education innovation and entrepreneurship

McDonald also points out state think tanks can play a pivotal role in helping the people in their communities access these innovative learning options.

Think tanks could create informative resource guides and curate relevant links on their websites for aspiring education entrepreneurs in their states, and they could offer webinars and workshops to help these entrepreneurs get the information and support they need to launch and grow successful education organizations.

Download the full report here.

To talk to author Kerry McDonald, please contact SPN’s Media Relations Manager, Camille Walsh, at

Organization: State Policy Network