All is not well with America’s teachers.

Surveys published this spring paint an alarming picture of the reality teachers face every day in our country’s classrooms.

Inflation has hit their earnings. Top-down regulation has smothered their creativity and motivation. Union-driven, one-size-fits-all contracts thwart career advancement. Teachers complain of a lack of control over discipline policies, verbal abuse and threats of physical violence.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than four-fifths of teachers surveyed by the RAND Corporation said public education has gotten worse in the past five years. More than half say it’s likely to keep getting worse over the next five, and a majority would not recommend their profession to the class of 2024.

A Brown University analysis shows that since 2009, the number of parents who say they want their child to grow up to become a teacher has fallen by half.

High school students considering future careers say better pay is the no. 1 factor that could make a teaching job more appealing. Next on the list are meaningful opportunities for career advancement, more autonomy on the job, and more professional prestige.

Effective teachers deserve these perks. But they won’t get them from existing public school systems.

We need to increase teachers’ ability to choose where they work.

As a Certified Public Accountant, I had a choice of career paths. I could have applied to an international Big Three accounting firm, joined a smaller specialty firm, taken an in-house job with a company or government agency, or gone into business for myself.

Right now, nearly nine in 10 American teachers are stuck with the first option —working for a large institution, usually a school district. Some take the second option, working for smaller private or charter schools. But for most educators, that is where the options end.

We must make it easier for teachers to go into business for themselves, creating their own schools or offering their own courses, tutoring or other educational services.

In my home state of Florida, more teachers are going this route, serving families who use the nation’s largest education choice program. As one teacher said after founding her own small academy for 16 middle school students: “I am 100 percent free. And I love it.”

Every teacher should have the freedom to design their own education solutions and market them directly to families.

Imagine Uber or AirBnB for education: An online platform that allows educators to offer their services to as many families as are willing to pay. One teacher could offer Advanced Placement English to hundreds of students at a time, and be compensated based on the popularity of their course, instead of a flat district salary schedule.

Websites like Outschool are moving in this direction, offering tens of thousands of courses, most of them electives or enrichment options.

When school districts have to compete to attract the most talented teachers, the best teachers’ pay will rise and excellence will be rewarded. Studies have found that expanding school choice options can create a bidding war for excellent teachers, pushing salaries higher.

To make this a reality, we also need to stop forcing new teachers to jump through pointless hoops. Teachers fast-tracked into classrooms during the pandemic performed about as well as their colleagues who cleared the usual bureaucratic hurdles to get traditional teaching certificates.

Economists recently ran the numbers on the value of different degrees, and found the return on investment for a traditional teaching credential is close to zero.

It’s no wonder. Teacher preparation programs can be money makers for colleges, but they offer little practical guidance on how to manage a classroom or deliver a lesson.

Certification requirements mostly serve to detract candidates with agency from pursuing the teaching profession. Those who persist are forced to take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt to sit through hours of abstract theorizing and ideological indoctrination — only to walk into class on day 1 of their first year ill-equipped to handle the student who won’t take his seat.

Teachers deserve better. They deserve to be “100 percent free.”

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran on Tribune News Service.