The Education Freedom Report Card evaluates categories such as school choice policy, availability of alternative teacher certification, efficient use of taxpayer dollars, and access to curricula among parents. As a report from The Wall Street Journal revealed yesterday, Florida earned first place in the conservative think tank’s index.
“If sunlight is the best disinfectant, it’s no wonder why the Sunshine State is one of the freest states for teachers and children to pursue an education that is largely devoid of red tape,” Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said in a statement provided to The Daily Wire. “Florida has led the way in expanding education choice, cutting red tape, and holding schools accountable to parents with academic transparency.”
In second place was Arizona, which recently approved tuition vouchers worth $6,500 per child that parents can apply to private schools, homeschools, or learning pods. Idaho, Indiana, and South Dakota rounded out the top five.
States that fell at the bottom of the ranking included New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, with Washington, D.C., placing last overall.
“As a fifth-generation educator, I know firsthand the importance of giving parents more choice in their children’s education, and how much of an advantage a quality education gives to those fortunate enough to receive it,” Roberts continued. “Lawmakers in every state capital — and here in D.C. — should be focused on empowering families and making sure that every child in this country has access to the highest-quality education, one that works best for them.”
The Education Freedom Report Card was unveiled shortly after the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress showed average reading scores for nine-year-olds plummeting five points and average mathematics scores dropping seven points. “This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics,” according to a report from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The dismal scores occurred after school lockdowns disrupted learning in the spring of 2020. In reaction to the subsequent spread of radical gender theory and other left-wing ideologies through government schools, home education rates soared as parents began to seek alternative educational opportunities for their children.
Particularly in urban school districts, teachers unions played a salient role in extending virtual instruction well into 2021 — a reality that the White House recently denied. “As record numbers of parents flip school boards and stand up to woke teachers’ unions, it is clear the parental rights and school choice movement is not slowing down,” Heritage Action Director Jessica Anderson said in remarks provided to The Daily Wire.
Despite lackluster outcomes, funding for government schools has continually risen throughout modern history. One report from the National Center for Education Statistics indicated that the inflation-adjusted yearly expenditure per American pupil rose from $4,060 to $15,424 between 1960 and 2017.
Meanwhile, school systems have grown their administrative staff at a far greater rate than their teaching staff — a metric that the Heritage Foundation scrutinized in their index. A study from the Department of Education revealed that non-teaching staff rose 702% between 1950 to 2009, even as districts hired 252% more teachers over the same period.