(The Center Square) – Florida ranked first in the United States for parental involvement in education, according to the Center for Education Reform’s Parent Power Index.
The index is released annually and measures the policies that exist in each state. Those policies are ranked by whether they allowed parental choice in what their child’s education would be, and if the needs of the student and their families were considered first.
Parent Power Index praised Florida’s approach on its website:
“With the biggest education choice expansion in the nation’s history in May 2021, Florida, with the strength of hurricane winds and an alligator’s appetite, increased opportunity to all students throughout the state. That, on top of a growing charter school law, widespread and welcome digital innovations and parent accountability make the Sunshine state not only a place of fun and sun but education freedom, too!”
Bryan Griffin, press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis, told The Center Square that they are proud of the achievement.
“We are grateful to be recognized as No. 1 in the nation for parental involvement in education,” Griffin said. “Education starts at home. As the governor stated upon signing the Parental Rights in Education Bill in May, ‘We will continue to recognize that, in the state of Florida, parents have a fundamental role in the education, healthcare, and well-being of their children. We will not move from that. I don’t care what corporate media outlets say…. Here I stand. I’m not backing down.’”
In a news release about the ranking, DeSantis emphasized the importance of parents being involved with their child’s education.
“Parental involvement is important to a child’s success both in school and in life, and in Florida we are proud to protect parents’ right to be involved in a child’s education,” DeSantis said. “This recognition continues to show that Florida is a national leader in school choice, parent empowerment, and education as a whole.”
The ranking was based on three criteria – choice programs, charter schools and innovation. Florida scored 94.6%, leading the nation.
“Florida will always protect the right of parents to raise their children how they best see fit,” Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. said in the news release. “We are proud to offer a variety of educational options for parents without limitations due to location or income. As the rest of the nation follows the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, the Department of Education will continue to support initiatives that uphold parental rights and expand school choice.”
Florida also ranked first in the nation for digital and personalized learning, as well as for choice programs. For charter schools, Florida ranks second, and was third for teacher quality.
Transparency, leadership and the state’s COVID-19 response also received high scores, as DeSantis was one of the few leaders who allowed children to stay in school during the pandemic, while other states around the U.S. stayed closed to in-person schooling after the summer break of 2020.
The Heritage Foundation additionally ranked Florida first, according to its Education Freedom Report Card, and again Florida was praised for the freedom approach to education.
“The governor is empowering parents with avenues to be involved and, when necessary, push back,” Griffin said. “He has championed legislation to keep Florida schools free from political indoctrination and has instructed the Florida Department of Education to keep schools focused on equipping Florida’s students to excel in core subjects like reading, writing, math, and civics.”