Florida Tops Education Rankings For First Time Ever Amid Education Culture Wars And School Choice Battles

Florida Tops Education Rankings For First Time Ever Amid Education Culture Wars And School Choice Battles

Florida has ousted New Jersey for the top spot in education rankings for the first time ever amid education culture wars and school choice battles in the state.

Florida took the overall top spot for education in the U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider reported. The report ranked Florida’s higher education at No. 1 and Pre-K-12 education at No. 14. The state also recently ranked No. 3 in last year’s rankings. The state has risen 28 spots since 2017, according to the Florida Standard.

Over the last year, the state has faced education culture wars, including the controversial “parental rights” bill signed by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in March 2022. Critics, which included celebrities and the National Education Association, dubbed the legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

DeSantis also moved to eliminate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion programs in higher education, according to Business Insider. However, Florida’s No. 1 ranking in higher education is due to its low tuition and debt, as well as high college graduation rates, according to U.S. News & World Report.

DeSantis has also signed legislation expanding Florida’s school choice programs since 2021. He first signed a bill that expanded “education opportunities for children from low-income families and students with unique abilities” in 2021, before signing the state’s universal school choice program into law in 2023. (RELATED: DeSantis Signs Universal School Choice Program Into Law)

Critics claimed these expansions would be “checks for millionaires,” Florida Politics reported. Others have said that it would “defund public schools.”

“Everyday people in this state deserve better than free handouts for the excessively wealthy designed to defund public schools while also keeping educators impoverished by robbing district funds,” Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book said in a press release.

Just after the state rankings were released, U.S. News & World reported that critics gave DeSantis an “F” on education reform, despite the state’s No. 1 higher education ranking in the country.

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