The report card
, released Friday, ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on a variety of factors, including access to school choice
programs, academic transparency, regulatory freedom, and student success compared to annual spending on education.
The report card ranked Florida as the top state for education freedom, followed by Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, and South Dakota. The worst-rated jurisdictions are Washington, D.C., followed by New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.
In a statement, Kevin Roberts, the president of the Heritage Foundation, lauded Florida’s track record, saying: “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. Florida has led the way in expanding education choice, cutting red tape, and holding schools accountable to parents with academic transparency.”
The rankings come several months after Florida and Arizona enacted several legislative initiatives that centered on education. Florida, in particular, generated national controversy after the state government passed the Parental Rights in Education Act, which codified several parental rights initiatives, and banned classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity before fourth grade. Florida has also banned public schools from teaching critical race theory, which says U.S. institutions are systemically racist and oppressive to racial minorities.
“Florida lawmakers set a high standard for academic transparency and rejecting critical race theory’s pernicious ideas. An impressive 42% of Florida teachers are alternatively certified, making their way to K–12 classrooms through means other than a traditional, university-based college education,” Lindsey Burke, the director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy, said. “If you’re looking for a state that supports families when it comes to directing the education of their children while keeping red tape and spending low, look no further than Florida.”
Arizona likewise made headlines during the summer after Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) signed a bill establishing the nation’s first universal school choice program. The new program earned Arizona the highest marks for school choice in Heritage’s report card, although its spending ranking prevented it from surpassing Florida in the overall ranking.
“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,” said Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action, the foundation’s affiliated political action committee. “Heritage Action looks forward to continuing our state and federal lobbying efforts to promote education freedom across the country and give all our students and families the best opportunities possible.”