Americans are trying to put the pandemic behind them, but parents and students in K–12 schools are now seeing the effects of prolonged school closures: Student achievement has plummeted to historic lows. Meanwhile, education special interest groups are doubling down on their plan to limit parents’ influence on their children’s educations. This endeavor is a lingering reminder of the COVID-19 years, as it was during this period that parents began to uncover the radical agenda that special interest groups were executing in classrooms.
Education remains a top priority for millions of American families, and parents should be empowered to choose a safe and effective education for their children. In its continuing efforts to help every child to achieve the American Dream, The Heritage Foundation has released the second edition of its Education Freedom Report Card to promote education freedom in each state.
The report card measures four categories (Education Choice, Teacher Freedom, Transparency, and Return on Investment) that encompass more than two dozen discrete factors
In this 2023 edition of the Education Freedom Report Card, Florida remains the top-ranked state across the board. Florida lawmakers have once again expanded education freedom and promoted parents’ rights while creating a laudable return on investment for taxpayers.
The Heritage Foundation is also pleased to recognize the states that made the most significant gains since last year, beginning with Iowa. This year, state lawmakers adopted education savings account-style options that are available to every child in the state, as well as a parent bill of rights. Both reforms empower parents to help their children succeed.
Arkansas also made remarkable improvements in the rankings, moving up from 13th to fourth place overall. Every parent in Arkansas is eligible to apply for the new education savings account that Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) signed into law.
At the other end of the spectrum, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Oregon came in 49th, 50th, and 51st, respectively, doing little to provide transparency and choice for families. The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy continues to set high standards in the report card for achieving and maintaining education freedom in the states. Heritage’s goal is that this annual ranking of states not only inform parents and policymakers of what their states do well and where they need improvement, but to inspire changes that give all students the chance to succeed in school and in life.
Note: The report card was first published September 9, 2022, assessing all state education laws as currently written. It will be regularly updated as states make reforms and changes to those laws.
 National Center for Education Statistics, “Digest of Education Statistics,” https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d22/tables/dt22_213.40.asp (accessed November 1, 2023).
 The Nation's Report Card, “Achievement-Level Results,” https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/civics/results/achievement/ (accessed November 1, 2023).
 Lindsey M. Burke, Ph.D., “School Districts Have Tools They Need to Address Alleged Teacher Shortages,” Heritage Foundation Commentary, June 3, 2022, https://www.heritage.org/education/commentary/school-districts-have-tools-they-need-address-alleged-teacher-shortages.
 Jay Greene, Ph.D. and Madison Marino, “Equity Elementary Extended: The Growth and Effects of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” Staff in Public Schools,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder, October 4, 2023, https://www.heritage.org/education/report/equity-elementary-extended-the-growth-and-effects-diversity-equity-and-inclusion.
 Scafidi chapter, Not So Great Society, pp. 27-28.
 EdChoice, “Fast Facts,” https://www.edchoice.org/school-choice/fast-facts/ (accessed November 1, 2023).
 “Education Power for Parents: A State Legislation Tracker,” Heritage Foundation Data Visualization, https://datavisualizations.heritage.org/education/education-power-for-parents-a-state-legislation-tracker/ (accessed November 1, 2023).