The Heritage Foundation released its report card, which ranks states based on education freedom, on Tuesday. The study revealed that Florida secured the top position, making it the freest state on the education front.
Florida’s Stance against “Wokeness”
In a recent study, Florida has emerged as the frontrunner in terms of education freedom, according to a report by the Heritage Foundation. This ranking highlights Florida’s commitment to combating the influence of “wokeness” and supporting parental rights in the education system.
Dr. Kevin Roberts, President of the Heritage Foundation, emphasized the significance of school choice in the wake of the challenges posed by the “Great Awakening” and the disruptive school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated, “The renaissance of school choice is the silver lining of the Left’s disastrous mismanagement of American schools. The ‘Great Awakening’ and the theatrical school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic only compounded the existing dysfunction of the system.” Dr. Roberts further added, “With more states embracing education freedom, we are inching closer to a system where parents have the autonomy they deserve, breaking away from the monopoly enjoyed by the education establishment.”
States were evaluated and ranked based on four categories: education choice, teacher freedom, transparency, and return on investment. Florida excelled across these categories and was deemed the top-ranked state overall.
Florida’s Legislative Efforts in Expanding Education Freedom
The report highlights Florida’s legislative efforts in expanding education freedom and supporting parental rights. The state’s commitment to academic transparency and its rejection of the contentious ideas associated with critical race theory were particularly noted. In 2022, Florida lawmakers passed a proposal that prevents students from being compelled to endorse the prejudiced ideas propagated by critical race theory.
Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis and his administration have been resolute in their efforts to remove “wokeness” from state schools. They, along with the Republican legislature, enacted a Parents Bill of Rights, which restricts instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation. Additionally, they have implemented laws to prohibit pornographic materials from reaching school children, including LGBTQ books featuring explicit content.
The fight against critical race theory in the classroom has been another significant aspect of Florida’s education policy. The DeSantis administration recently succeeded in persuading The College Board to modify its AP African American History course to align with Florida’s educational standards by removing proposed content related to queer theory and Black Lives Matter.
Governor Kim Reynolds Signed a Major School Choice Bill
Heritage Foundation’s report also acknowledged Iowa and Arkansas for making substantial strides in education freedom. Iowa’s Governor Kim Reynolds signed a major school choice bill into law earlier this year, which introduced education savings account-style options for every child in the state, alongside a parent bill of rights. Similarly, Arkansas Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee signed an education reform package in March, addressing school choice, teacher pay, and critical race theory in classrooms.
On the other end of the spectrum, states such as Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Oregon were rated low on the report card for doing little to provide transparency and choice for families. Florida’s top ranking in education freedom underscores its commitment to empowering parents, promoting transparency, and challenging ideological influences in the education system. As debates on these issues continue to shape the national discourse, Florida’s proactive stance has set an example for other states to follow.