No. 1 spot: Heritage Foundation gives Ron DeSantis’ Florida top marks in K-12 education
Ron DeSantis bears down on school boards.

DeSantis
The conservative think tank likes Sunshine State classrooms.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is celebrating a new report card from a conservative think tank that says public education in this state is the best in the country, while also poking at President Joe Biden along the way.

“At a moment when we hear so much about the soul of the nation, we’re standing up for educational freedom,” DeSantis said, mocking the premise of the President’s speech a week ago that castigated Republicans as extremists.

DeSantis was in Orlando Friday afternoon, where the Heritage Foundation was highlighting the state’s educational achievement as the nation’s #1 in its first report card.

“In this inaugural 2022 edition of the Education Freedom Report CardFlorida is the top-ranked state across the board. Families looking for a state that embraces education freedom, respects parents’ rights, and provides a decent (return on investment) for taxpayers should look no further than The Sunshine State,” raved the conservative think tank.

This honorific “gives other states something to strive for,” DeSantis said Friday, and indeed it is mostly resoundingly positive.

“Florida is #1 in overall education freedom. Florida is the only state with top-10 ranks in every category, including first in Transparency, second in Regulation, and third in School Choice,” Heritage’s report card asserted.

The state demonstrated its commitment to transparency through ferreting out unwelcome ideologies, in part.

“Florida lawmakers set a high standard for academic transparency and rejecting critical race theory’s pernicious ideas in 2022,” the report asserted.

Yet the Governor conceded that it wasn’t a perfect report card, noting that “although we finished #1 overall, we weren’t #1 in every single (category).”

Indeed, the report suggests there is room for improvement in terms of regulatory freedom. Specifically, the state is heavy with diversity officers.

“Despite its #2 rank for regulatory freedom, the Sunshine State has room for improvement: 42 percent of its school districts with more than 15,000 students employ a ‘chief diversity officer,'” Heritage criticized.

“Florida can maintain its #1 ranking (SIC) by limiting growth in non-teaching staff, particularly chief diversity officers, and continuing to embrace alternative routes for teachers to K-12 classrooms or by ending certification requirements altogether.”

DeSantis noted that in addition to raising teacher salaries, eligibility has been expanded to ex-military under provisional certification, which “has now been attacked by teachers unions because (they say) you can’t just put any warm body in front of students.”

School choice has room for improvement also.

“Florida ranks #3 for school choice. Florida does exceptionally well in allowing parents to choose among private, charter and district schools. Additionally, Florida offers K-12 education savings accounts that parents can use to customize the education of their eligible children, and generally respects the autonomy of homeschooling families,” Heritage asserted.

“Florida could improve its ranking by expanding eligibility for its private-education choice policies.”

In his remarks Friday, DeSantis noted that school districts had to “compete” and “embrace choice,” suggesting that despite the No. 3 ranking, he’s happy with the progress. As a candidate, he championed school choice, and it’s clear he has delivered.

“The results of this,” DeSantis said, “have been better performance across the board.”

Spending, at No. 7, was the worst category, and Heritage blamed pensions in no small part.

“Florida ranks seventh overall in return on investment (ROI) for education spending. Florida spends the 48th most per pupil among states, spending $11,043 in cost-of-living-adjusted terms annually,” Heritage said. “The Sunshine State’s public schools employ 0.93 teachers for every non-teacher. Florida’s unfunded teacher pension liability represents 4 percent of its state GDP.”

“Florida can improve its ROI ranking by continuing to make progress in math and reading achievement on the NAEP, limiting growth in non-teaching staff, and lowering its unfunded teacher pension liabilities,” Heritage contended.

The Governor offered familiar victory lap remarks Friday, such as de rigueur denunciations of “mandatory masking,” cavils at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other irksome trends “driven by ideology” ranging from “woke gender ideology” to the 1619 Project and “critical race theory.”

He likened the pro-CRT position to that taken by Stephen Douglas in his debates with Abraham Lincoln, one of the few new tropes in Friday’s largely rehashed remarks.

“The people on the left, when they defend things like CRT, they’re effectively taking the position on the American founding that Stephen Douglas did when he debated Abraham Lincoln.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


7 comments

  • Tom

    September 9, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    Of course, it’s a avalanche, love fest! !
    The Governor who kept schools open!
    Who stood up to Mats, weingarten, they sued and lost!

    DeSantis, education , not corrupt leftist indoctrination.

    America’s Gov!

  • PeterH

    September 9, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    The Heritage Foundation of yesteryear once offered valued conservative white papers offering Americans an alternate perspective on social norms, fiscal conservatism and international standing.

    NOT ANY MORE.

    This diatribe flourishes what we’ve learned since Reagan….. the Heritage Foundation is noting more than a cabal of lying political hacks.

    Fact: Because of DeSantis’s policies Florida’s K-12 schools are forced to hire college dropouts to teach (babysit). Ask DeSantis why 9000 qualified teachers are missing from Florida’s classrooms.

    Fact: The Florida department of education’s test scores indicate that 50% of Florida’s third grade students CAN NOT READ.

    Why is Florida responding to the teacher shortage by lowering professional standards in the classroom? Why is Florida hiring college dropouts with two years of college to fill vacancies? Florida has about 9,000 vacant teaching positions in schools across the state, according to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Education.

    While Florida has paid lip service to increase starting salaries, the state ranks 48th in the nation when it comes to average teacher salaries, according to an April report by the National Education Association. The teaching environment here is also worsening, as DeSantis and other Republicans have made grade schools and universities the latest battle grounds in partisan culture wars. Qualified teachers are professionals and certainly don’t want to be looking over their shoulder for the next unhappy legislator or parent ready to sue for financial gain.

    If Americans want women to control their own bodies, qualified teachers to replace DeSantis’s culture wars in classrooms, intelligent teacher-student conversations concerning the social issues facing Americans in the 21st century, non-bullying discussion about classroom students who are different, common sense gun regulations, and a new honest approach on how best to address climate change……
    AMERICANS MUST VOTE ALL REPUBLICANS OUT OF OFFICE.

    REPUBLICANS ARE AMERICA’S PROBLEM.

    • Billy Rotberg

      September 12, 2022 at 1:25 pm

      A few months you were demanding arm jabs under threats of lost jobs. Now you are pushing bodily control!
      LMAO

  • Tom

    September 10, 2022 at 2:26 pm

    Crock of manure!
    This from the associate of the Lincoln predator Org. Racists, tiki torches last fall as liars!

    • Billy Rotberg

      September 12, 2022 at 1:26 pm

      MSNBC called; they want their sheep baaaaaaak!

  • Richard Torres

    September 10, 2022 at 6:25 pm

    Talk about lies! I feel sorry for the people that believe this shot. DeSantis is a devil spawn like Trump. Just more stupid. At least Trump can claim dementia. Women and minorities in FL will make him loser in November, and not a viable candidate for President. His time is up.

  • marylou

    September 12, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    The DeSatan is desperately trying to distract Floridians from noticing that he is turning-back women’s rights to the 1950s.

    Voters are rejecting the cruelty of Desantis as he inserts himself into women’s bodies and imposes an abortion ban that doesn’t even protect 10 year old rape and incest victims. Desantis will force elementary school girls into motherhood. Parents don’t want their daughters to have fewer rights than their grandmothers had, and they don’t want a governor dictating their family’s personal lives.

Comments are closed.


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