Why Did I Become an Education Entrepreneur?
From time to time, during a conversation with a stranger, or new acquaintance, I tell them that I was an educator in a former life. I go through the story of how a class project in a college course inspired me to pursue a career in the teaching field. Then I discuss my seven years a K-12 teacher, and my eight years as a college professor and higher education administrator, which culminated with my appointment as a dean of a college of education. Finally, I discuss how I became the owner of an education company, which manages the following web properties: The Edvocate, The Tech Edvocate, and Edupedia.
After a long-winded trip down memory lane, they pose the question, why did you leave higher education and become an education entrepreneur? Well, the answer is kind of complicated. You see, I never saw myself as the owner of an education company or a father for that matter. But as the old saying goes, “if you want to make God laugh, make plans.”
Back in 2005, when I was as a doctoral student at Jackson State University, I meticulously planned out my career, even setting deadlines that stated when goals needed to be completed. I am 40 as I write this blog, and according to my master plan, I was supposed to be a vice president at a college or university or better yet, the president.
Well, things didn’t work out as I planned, and the stressful road to the college presidency took a toll on my mind, body, and soul. It all came to a head when things didn’t work out as planned in my deanship, and I realized that I was on the wrong career path.
I quickly realized that the public and private education sectors were not concerned with educating students, they were concerned with lining their pockets with cash and protecting their jobs. This realization broke my heart, and I understood that if I continued, I would be part of the problem, not the solution. Also, I would have to continue to bite my tongue while taking orders from egotistical higher-ups, only concerned with how things affected them.
These C-Suite administrators and board of trustees members didn’t care how their indifference and incompetence affected the students. As a middle-level manager, I was expected to carry out their misguided policies and edicts. I was also supposed to manage an entire school of education, with a budget that was laughable.
The students suffered, as I couldn’t provide them with the supports or resources that they needed to reach their potential. Despite this, the school of education experienced record graduation rates, but I had to work 60-70-hour weeks to accomplish this. I was exhausted, but I continued speaking up for morality and fighting for my students. That’s ironic, having to continually be the voice of morality at a Baptist (university).
After it became apparent that we weren’t a good for each other, the university and I parted ways, but I left with my integrity intact. I had seen the abyss of higher education, and I wanted no parts of it. I considered giving it one more shot at another university, but at the end of the day, I decided to take the entrepreneur’s route.
I finally understood that the change that I wanted to make should be made outside of the system, not within. Not having to answer to incompetent higher-ups is just a bonus. Another bonus is having the time and flexibilty to pick my son up from daycare, heading to one of our favorite parks for some fun, culminating with a healthy snack. So, there you have it, the story of why I decided to leave public and private education and become an education entrepreneur.