Education Freedom Report Card
State Rankings for Parents
from Heritage Foundation, September, 2022
Education is a top priority to millions of American families, and parents should be empowered to choose a safe and effective education for their children. To serve that goal, The Heritage Foundation has published the Education Freedom Report Card, to serve as a guide for assessing education freedom in each state.
Our report card measures four broad categories (School Choice, Transparency, Regulatory Freedom, and Spending) that encompass more than two dozen discrete factors.
In this inaugural 2022 edition of the Education Freedom Report Card, Florida is the top-ranked state across the board. Families looking for a state that embraces education freedom, respects parents’ rights, and provides a decent ROI for taxpayers should look no further than The Sunshine State.
In second place overall this year in our report card is Arizona, a state that will certainly give Florida a run for its money next year in light of its recently expanded, now-universal ESA program. Idaho takes third place overall, thanks in large part to a strong ROI for taxpayer dollars and high levels of transparency to parents.
At the other end of the spectrum, New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia came in 49th, 50th, and 51st, respectively, doing little to provide transparency, accountability, and choice to families. This report card sets a high bar for achieving and maintaining education freedom in the states. Our goal is that this annual ranking of states will not only inform parents and policymakers of what their states do well and where they need improvement, but that it will spur necessary and lasting reform.
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State Report Card: Hawaii
#41 Overall Rank
Hawaii is #41 in overall education freedom. The state ranks last in School Choice but fourth in Regulation.
#51 School Choice Rank
Hawaii ranks #51 for school choice. Hawaii could do much more to expand education choice. Hawaii could improve its ranking by establishing K–12 education savings accounts, making it easier for more charter schools to open and operate, removing excessive regulations on homeschooling families, and giving families more choices among traditional public schools.
#15 Transparency Rank
Hawaii lawmakers have not adopted proposals to increase academic transparency or that reject the prejudice caused by the application of critical race theory in schools.
#4 Regulatory Freedom Rank
Hawaii does, however, rank fourth in regulatory freedom among states. More than half (55 percent) of its teachers are alternatively certified, and the state allows full reciprocity of teacher licensure. But Hawaii still uses Common Core–aligned tests. And while no school districts employ a “chief diversity officer,” Hawaii is unique among states in that it is one single school district.
Hawaii can improve its regulatory freedom score by continuing to increase alternative teacher certification for aspiring K–12 teachers or ending certification requirements altogether, and by ending its participation in Common Core assessments.
#39 Spending Rank
Hawaii ranks 39th overall in return on investment (ROI) for education spending. Hawaii spends the 20th most per pupil among states, spending $16,020 in cost-of-living-adjusted terms annually. Hawaii is tied for 40th place in its combined fourth-grade and eighth-grade math and reading average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) score. The Aloha State employs 1.1 teachers for every non-teacher in its public schools. Hawaii’s unfunded teacher pension liability represents 17 percent of its state GDP.
Hawaii can improve its ROI ranking by limiting increases in per-pupil spending, improving academic outcomes on the NAEP, and addressing its significant unfunded teacher pension liabilities.