Florida ranks first among states in educational freedom, while the District of Columbia lags behind all, according to a new report card from The Heritage Foundation.
The leading think tank’s 2022 Education Freedom Report, released Thursday, measures the 50 states and the district based on four broad categories: school choice, transparency, freedom to regulate and spending . (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news agency.)
Arizona, Idaho, Indiana and South Dakota round out the top five states after Florida in overall educational freedom.
The last five states, just before the district in descending order, are Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.
The authors write:
This report card sets the bar high for achieving and maintaining educational freedom in the states. Our goal is that this annual state ranking not only informs parents and policy makers about what their states are doing well and where they need to improve, but that it spur needed and lasting reform.
The first in what will be a series of annual Heritage Report Cards further divides the categories into discrete factors that together determine the level of educational freedom in each state.
Arizona ranks first for school choice as well as second for overall educational freedom in Heritage’s analysis.
In July, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed into law a bill extending college savings accounts to all K-12 students. Eligible students can use these accounts to pay for almost any tuition option, including private and charter school tuition and home schooling costs.
Florida and Indiana are among 13 states that have also expanded existing school choice programs. Other states have adopted new school choice policies.
A Real Clear Opinion poll found in June that an all-time high 71% of Americans polled said they support school choice.
But giving parents the freedom to choose their child’s private school is not enough, the authors of the Heritage report write:
Although educational choice is central to the future of educational freedom in this country – and some would say it is the a reform that catalyzes all the other reforms needed in K-12 education today – this is one of the many factors we assess in this newsletter.
As Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, who contributed to the Education Freedom Bulletin, once wrote:
When COVID-era remote learning began in 2020, parents gained unprecedented insight into their students’ classrooms and county school board meetings. What they saw – fraudulent, enlightened propaganda disguised as curricula; union-driven closures; punitive masks and vaccine mandates; and the Democratic Party’s crackdown on objections to any of these – has changed the moral and political foundations upon which our education system rests.
With Americans’ confidence in the public school system having fallen by more than a third in the past two years, according to Gallup Poll tracking, academic transparency is another growing priority.
New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Massachusetts are among the states where Heritage’s report card ranks low in terms of transparency and overall freedom in education. These states, he says, have failed to ban or limit the teaching of critical race theory to K-12 students.
Florida ranks first for academic transparency, followed by Montana and South Dakota.
In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed into law a law requiring school districts to share course materials and library books with parents.
“In Florida, our parents have every right to participate in their child’s education. We are not going to let politicians deny parents the right to know what is being taught in our schools. I’m proud to sign this law that ensures program transparency,” DeSantis said at a signing ceremony in March.
A month later, DeSantis signed another bill that bars K-12 schools in Florida from teaching critical race theory, which views all interactions through the lens of race.
Florida ranks second in regulatory freedom, after Mississippi with its perfect score due to low barriers to teaching, lack of diversity officers in school districts, and lack of based testing. on the common core education standards.
Jay Greene, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, argued that diversity leaders “can best be understood as political activists who articulate and enforce ideological orthodoxy within school districts.”
In recent decades, the role of parents in determining the upbringing of children has increasingly been supplanted by a professional class of experts. The fact that these experts pushed schools through a revolving door of failed educational fads, from teaching reading in the whole language to open-core classrooms, did nothing to diminish their confidence. This time they’re right, we’re told, so parents just have to get on board and hand over their students.
The return on taxpayers’ investment in K-12 education also contributes to a state’s overall educational freedom ranking on the report card.
The District of Columbia ranks among the lowest for return on investment. The nation’s capital spends more per student than any state, but ranks 48th in average student reading scores.
Idaho ranks first in return on investment, spending almost the least per student to get the best academic returns.
Below is a list of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia, ranked highest to lowest for overall educational freedom, according to the Heritage newsletter:
Caroline from the south
District of Colombia
Reprinted with permission from – The Daily Signal by – Gillian Richards
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