TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — U.S. News and World Report says Florida is the best state in America for Education, while at the same time arguing the governor deserves an “F on Education Reform.”
The premier rankings site released its new rankings of all 50 states on Tuesday and scored the Sunshine State No. 1 in the Education category. Less than 24 hours after releasing the rankings, however, U.S. News published a story with the headline: “Critics Give DeSantis an ‘F’ on Education Reform.”
“CRITICS” AND “EXPERTS” DON’T LIKE DESANTIS
The article cited “experts” and “critics” who called the governor “an urgent threat” to “Florida’s lauded education system.”
The first critic quoted is Andrew Spar, president of Florida’s largest teachers union, who speculated: “We’re going to see significant negative impacts on our student learning as we move forward.” The governor has been an outspoken critic of teachers unions and pushed for legislation that would require them to disclose how much money their top employees are paid.
The next education “expert” cited in the article is Taifha Natalee Alexander, project director of CRT Forward at UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program. Under DeSantis’ directive, Florida has outlawed the use of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in classrooms because it instructs students to view the world through the lens of skin color and define oppressors based on race rather than behavior.
“That’s a really scary thing to think about,” Alexander said. “It’s going to impact students' ability to be able to address some of the most pressing racial and social justice issues of our time.”
Jessica Levin, director of the Public Funds Public Schools campaign, told U.S. News that Florida’s new school choice program is “frightening.”
FLORIDA CLIMBS THE CHARTS
Rhetoric aside, U.S. News’ own numbers reveal a major improvement over the past five years. In 2017 – the year before DeSantis became governor – U.S. News ranked Florida 29th in Education and 24th overall. This year, Florida finished as the 10th best state.
“Make it make sense,” the governor’s deputy press secretary Jeremy Redfern tweeted in response to the dichotomy between U.S. News objective rankings and subjective commentary.
Alex Lanfranconi, Director of Communications at the Florida Department of Education, pointed to recent reforms as contributing factors in the state’s success.
“Governor Ron DeSantis has eliminated common core, protected parental rights, provided historic teacher salary increases, abolished woke indoctrination from the classroom and exposed the DEI scam in higher education,” Lanfranconi told The Florida Standard in a statement.
The state’s 90.2 percent graduation rate is almost 4 points higher than the national average and its average student debt post-college is nearly $5,000 below the national average. DeSantis frequently cites his administration’s commitment to maintaining college affordability. Additionally, the University of Florida finished in the Top 5 and Florida State University broke the Top 20 in the latest rankings for public colleges and universities – released in November.
In March, Florida became the largest state in America to allow universal school choice.
“For those living in the Sunshine State, it comes as no surprise that our education system is number one in the country,” Lanfranconi added. “The results speak for themselves. The Florida education model works.”