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Education reform advocacy group StudentsFirst, led by school choice champion Michelle Rhee, has released their State Policy Report Card. This report card was designed “to evaluate the education laws and policies in place in each state.” The study used three forms of criteria for evaluation to find states in which schools: Elevate teaching, Empower Parents, and Spend Wisely & Govern Well. This study shines a light on education reform, and people are taking notice. With high-ranking states trumpeting their success and low-ranking states in spin-control overdrive, it’s clear that the states know the public is waking up to education reform and accountability.
The states which fared well have been touting their success in this report as a way to highlight the strengths of their education systems. John White, state superintendent of Louisiana, said their high rank was an “indication of the boldness and the courage that our governor and our legislators and our people have shown in supporting policies that don’t accept the status quo.” Those in the low-ranking states were singing a different tune, however. They simply decided to discount the study. California’s chief deputy superintendent, for example, told the New York Times that their F ranking was “A badge of honor,” and questioned the credibility of the group. Rhee fired back, saying “Mr. Zeiger may call that a badge of honor, but I call it a social injustice.”
The attention on this report card is also important because the data correlates to other school achievement data in interesting ways. The states which fared best in the StudentsFirst report card have some of the weakest teachers’ unions in America. Meanwhile, states such as California and Montana, which received an F grade, are among the strongest. Robust school choice also correlates with higher rates of graduation, adding another layer of correlation with educational data. As more studies emerge, a clearer picture of American education is coming together.
The StudentsFirst Report Card is another step forward for education reform and accountability. Every American taxpayer has invested in our public education system and informing them as to what works (and doesn't) is a great service.