Education freedom and parental empowerment in education are resonating themes with parents, and a recently-unveiled report card highlighted how red states are leading the charge on education freedom.
The Heritage Foundation published its first-ever Education Freedom Report Card, which found that Florida is the top-ranked state across all four of its categories: School choice, transparency, regulatory freedom, and spending.
Florida topped the rankings because it is a state that “embraces education freedom, respects parents’ rights, and provides a decent ROI [return-on-investment] for taxpayers.” The Sunshine State is the only state “with top-10 ranks in every category” of the report card.
Arizona, another pro-school choice state, was second to Florida and would “give Florida a run for its money next year in light of its recently expanded, now-universal ESA program.” A major issue facing the Grand Canyon state is the unfettered growth of non-teaching jobs, low math and reading scores, and unfunded teacher pension liabilities.
The third-place state was Idaho, which Heritage said was due to a strong return-on-investment “for taxpayer dollars and high levels of transparency to parents.”
The bottom ranked states and federal district in education freedom are the blue states of New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia. Heritage claimed that these two states and the District of Columbia are “doing little to provide transparency, accountability, and choice to families.”
If one compares the top-ranked states in the report card to the population growth trends, it is clear that parents prefer education freedom states than those stuck with powerful teachers’ unions. Florida, Arizona, and Idaho saw unprecedented population growth during the pandemic, likely due to keeping schools open.