Parents are demanding higher quality educational opportunities for their children, and a new tool makes it easy to see what exactly their state is offering them. 

Last Friday, the Heritage Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based think tank released an Education Freedom Report Card detailing how states fare on the issue of education freedom. The report card ranked each state based on four categories: school choice, transparency, regulatory freedom, and spending. Within those four categories, the report card measured over two dozen factors, from testing requirements to the proportion of students in the state who participate in private school choice and public comment opportunities in school board meetings. How well or poorly a state performed against this criterion determined its ranking on the report card. 

The report, while emphasizing the need for popular school choice policies, took a more holistic approach to analyze education in America. The authors not only considered access to school choice in the scoring but other critical variables, such as accountability to the rule of law, that have become increasingly important in the debate surrounding American education:

It is not enough, though, for parents to be able to choose a private school. Existing traditional schools must still be held accountable to state and federal law—and state officials are responsible for doing so. Across the country, growing numbers of teachers have abandoned the practice of teaching their students about a shared sense of national identity, and districts are coercing teachers and students to affirm ideas that violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Schools are separating students into racial affinity groups, a practice that the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education should have ended. Schools are teaching children to affirm the lie that America is systemically racist, despite seminal laws, such as the Civil Rights Act, and the monumental cultural shifts and racial progress brought on by the civil rights movement.

The Education Freedom Report Card is not only meant to be a resource to parents as they choose safe and effective schooling options for their children, but also to serve as a source of inspiration for national education reform:

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.

Florida is the top-rated state for education freedom, followed by Arizona and Idaho. The worst places for education freedom are New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. 

A champion for education freedom himself, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis spoke at the Education Freedom Report Card launch, which took place in his very own state. Already, the governor is using that report card as a catalyst for change in his state:

“Although we finished one overall…we weren’t number one in every single ranking, so we’re going to be working hard to make sure we can do even better going forward.”

Florida earned a high ranking thanks to its education savings account program, launched in 2014, as well as its high degree of transparency for parents.

The key to Florida’s success is that they proudly put students first in education. Thanks to the new Education Freedom Report card, parents across the country can see how their state measures up on key issues and encourage lawmakers in their state to support policies that advance education freedom.