Government Watch / Politics

Where Does Your State Rank in Education Freedom?

Florida ranks highest among the states in education freedom, while the District of Columbia trails behind all of them, according to a new “report card” from The Heritage Foundation.  

The leading think tank’s 2022 Education Freedom Report Card, released Thursday, measures all 50 states and the District based on four broad categories: school choice, transparency, regulatory freedom, and spending. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)  

Rounding out the top five states after Florida in overall education freedom are Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, and South Dakota. 

The bottom five states, coming in just before the District in descending order, are Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.

The authors write:

This report card sets a high bar for achieving and maintaining education freedom in the states. Our goal is that this annual ranking of states will not only inform parents and policymakers of what their states do well and where they need improvement, but that it will spur necessary and lasting reform. 

The first of what will be a series of annual report cards from Heritage further divides categories into discrete factors that together determine the level of education freedom in each state.

Arizona ranks first in school choice as well as second in overall education freedom in Heritage’s analysis.  

In July, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed into law a bill extending education savings accounts to all K-12 students. Eligible students may use these accounts to pay for almost any schooling option—including private and charter school tuition as well as homeschooling expenses.  

Florida and Indiana are among 13 states that also expanded existing school choice programs. Other states passed new school choice policies.  

Real Clear Opinion poll found in June that 71% of Americans surveyed, an all-time high, said they support school choice.  

But simply giving parents the freedom to choose their child’s private school isn’t enough, the authors of Heritage’s report write: 

Although education choice is critical for the future of education freedom in this country—and some would argue that it is the reform that catalyzes all other necessary reforms in K–12 education today—it is one of many factors we assess in this report card. 

As Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, a contributor to the Education Freedom Report Card, previously has written: 

When COVID-era remote learning began in 2020, parents gained an unprecedented view inside their students’ classrooms and their counties’ school board meetings. What they saw—fraudulent, woke propaganda disguised as curricula; union-driven closures; punitive mask and vaccine mandates; and the Democratic Party’s crackdown on objections to any of the above—has changed the moral and political foundations on which our education system rests. 

With Americans’ trust in the public school system dropping by over 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 states that Heritage’s report card ranks low in transparency as well as in overall education freedom. These states, it says, have failed to bar 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 Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed into law a requirement that school districts share course materials and library books with parents.  

“In Florida, our parents have every right to be involved 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 legislation that ensures curriculum transparency,” DeSantis said during a signing ceremony in March. 

A month later, DeSantis signed another bill into law that bars Florida’s K-12 schools from teaching critical race theory, which views all interactions through the lens of race

Florida ranks second for regulatory freedom, following Mississippi with its perfect score because of low barriers to teaching, no chief diversity officers in school districts, and no testing based on Common Core education standards.  

Jay Greene, senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, has argued that chief diversity officers “may be best understood as political activists who articulate and enforce an ideological orthodoxy within school districts.” 

Greene writes: 

In recent decades, the role of parents in determining the education of children has increasingly been displaced by a professional class of experts. The fact that these experts have pushed schools through a revolving door of failed educational fads, from whole language reading instruction to open classrooms to Common Core, has done nothing to diminish their confidence. This time they have it right, we’re told, so parents just need to get on board and hand their students over.

Return on taxpayer investment in K-12 education also contributes to a state’s overall education 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 pupil than any state, yet takes 48th place in students’ average reading scores.  

Idaho ranks first place in return on investment, spending almost the least per student to get the greatest academic returns.  

Below is a list of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, ranked highest to lowest for overall education freedom, according to Heritage’s report card: 

Florida  

Arizona 

Idaho  

Indiana 

South Dakota  

Mississippi  

West Virginia  

Montana  

Louisiana  

Tennessee 

Utah 

Texas  

Arkansas 

Georgia  

North Carolina 

Alabama  

Missouri  

Oklahoma 

New Hampshire  

Virginia  

Wyoming  

Iowa  

South Carolina  

Vermont  

Nevada  

Maine  

Michigan  

Nebraska  

California  

Kentucky  

Delaware  

Wisconsin  

Colorado  

Ohio  

North Dakota  

Kansas  

Pennsylvania  

New Mexico  

Minnesota  

Oregon  

Hawaii  

Illinois  

Washington  

Rhode Island  

Alaska  

Connecticut  

Massachusetts 

Maryland  

New Jersey  

New York  

District of Columbia


Reprinted with Permission from - The Daily Signal by – Gillian Richards

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Rosanne
2 months ago

As of 9/15/22 the States Ranking Map has disappeared on my computer. Page won’t come up.

David
2 months ago

Wow! It is good to know that Idaho is #3 in the nation!

johnh
2 months ago

Get the politics out of our primary education, USA must educate our youth just as good as the last generations received. Parents are very important, but our teachers can & have molded the youth of this nation to believe in life, liberty, and happiness.

Joihn
2 months ago

Why can’t I share the articles with my family and friends, every time I send them an article to read they can’t open it. It reads they have to have the AMAC app to read it?

SusanP
2 months ago

Kentucky ranks at #30. That is totally unacceptable. Especially with Indiana at #4 and Tennessee at #9. Time to have a serious talk with my representative and senator in the Commonwealth Legislature.

Art
2 months ago

Massachusetts is the home of many of the best universities and colleges in the U.S. and the world. HOW PATHETIC IS IT THAT PRIMARY EDUCATION IS SO BAD????????????? My opinion is that being BLUE AND ELITE is at least one answer.

pete
2 months ago
Reply to  Art

I believe the woke crap has its roots in the Ivy League. I don’t think the schools are better than lots of others–like everything else liberal, they toot their own horn and ‘throw out their chests’. the rating is tied to liberal ideals, so the schools that reflect that bias the most get ‘the best scores’. It’s all a load of cow manure, imo.

Emer
2 months ago

The Report Card is not found — it seems to have been taken down when one clicks to open that file.

SusanP
2 months ago
Reply to  Emer

There are numerous mistakes in the programming on AMAC, but the list is at the bottom of the article. You just have to count down the list for yourself to see where you state is.

Sharon Ormsby
2 months ago

Wow, Texas is 12th? I’m shocked! We’d be higher except for the hubs of purely liberal Austin, San Antonio, and Houston.

Hal
2 months ago
Reply to  Sharon Ormsby

I concur with your shock. But the liberal Commie DemocRat influence founded in post Civil War times still has some wrinkles still left in State public policy.

David P Nelson
2 months ago

Dah….the Kids are our Future.

Dave
2 months ago
Reply to  David P Nelson

Not if they were forced to take the garbage shot…

PaulE
2 months ago

Clearly Govenor Murphy in my state of New Jersey still has some work to do get to the bottom of the list. Since he also has big plans to run for President as well, I’m sure he’ll pull out all the stops to tank what is left of public education in this state.

Kim
2 months ago
Reply to  PaulE

Too bad for NJ. I did K-12 in Bergen County and received a very good education. But that was in the ’50’s and 60’s, before progressives and wokeness gripped the nation by the throat and killed any hope of excellence. We the People need to make sure our taxes are being spent wisely. That means knowing what our children and grandchildren are reading in their textbooks and recognizing the often undisguised bias in a teacher’s instruction.

The alternative is to take them out of public school and demand that our tax dollars follow the pupils to better options. And to vote out the politicians who treat students as their playthings.

William E Nickoley
2 months ago

The link to the report does not work. Please check and link again. Thank you.

Darius Dickison
2 months ago

Whose country, states, counties, cities, schools are they?

K. Martin
2 months ago

Sad to see that my state, Texas, ranks 12. I know my youngest son quit college after only two semesters because he couldn’t tolerate the liberal baloney being shoved down his throat by Marxists posing as professors.

Sharon Ormsby
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Martin

Hey, that’s high for Texas. We’d be higher except for the hubs of Austin, San Antonio, and Houston!

SusanP
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Martin

Be thankful he had the good sense to remove himself from that toxic environment. Far too many students are sucked into the liberal BS. Not everyone needs to go to college to be successful in life.

CheraMom Evans
2 months ago
Reply to  SusanP

Why does it say, “You’re not allowed to vote for this comment.”? and half the time it tells me I’ve already voted when I haven’t. Wish AMAC would fix this. This comment deserved an up vote.

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