Washington state gets failing grade on education freedom report card

Washington state is ranked No. 43 out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in a new “Education Freedom Report Card” put out by The Heritage Foundation.

The Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank’s report measured four broad categories – school choice, transparency, regulatory freedom, and spending – across more than two dozen separate and distinct factors.

Washington state ranked low in three out of the four broad categories.

It ranked No. 47 in school choice, No. 40 in transparency, and No. 48 in regulatory freedom.

“Washington could improve its [school choice] ranking by establishing K–12 education savings accounts, making it easier for more charter schools to open and operate, removing excessive regulations on homeschool families, and giving families more choices among traditional public schools,” the report said.

On transparency, the report noted, “Washington lawmakers have not adopted proposals to increase academic transparency or that reject the prejudice caused by the application of critical race theory in schools.”

Washington’s lowest ranking came in terms of regulatory freedom.

“Washington can improve its regulatory freedom score by enabling more aspiring K–12 teachers to take alternative teacher certification routes, bypassing traditional university-based colleges of education,” the report advised. “It should also allow full reciprocity of teacher licensure or eliminate teacher certification requirements altogether. Washington should end its participation in the Common Core–aligned tests.”

When it came to spending, the Evergreen State just missed making the top 10, coming in at No. 11.

“Washington spends the 15th most per pupil among states, spending $16,980 in cost-of-living-adjusted terms annually,” according to the report. “Washington is tied for 17th place in its combined fourth-grade and eighth-grade math and reading average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) score. The Evergreen State employs 1.51 teachers for every non-teacher in its public schools. Washington’s unfunded teacher pension liability represents 0.9 percent of its state GDP.”

The Center Square reached out to the Governor's Office for comment on the report.

"I don’t have a good sense of their methodology but I do see their scorecard includes criteria such as 'strong critical race theory law' or 'indoctrination incidents per pupil' which are more like ideological labels and slogans than legitimate indicators of educational opportunity," Jaime Smith, Gov. Jay Inslee's executive director of communications, said via email.

Washington’s ninth-worst in the nation ranking was only three places better than Oregon’s No. 40 ranking.

Washington’s other Pacific Northwest neighbor, Idaho, shined in the report, coming in at No. 3 overall, “thanks in large part to a strong ROI for taxpayer dollars and high levels of transparency to parents.”

The 10 best states in terms of economic freedom:

1. Florida

2. Arizona

3. Idaho

4. Indiana

5. South Dakota

6. Mississippi

7. West Virginia

8. Montana

9. Louisiana

10. Tennessee

The 10 worst states in terms of economic freedom:

51. District of Columbia

50. New York

49. New Jersey

48. Maryland

47. Massachusetts

46. Connecticut

45. Alaska

44. Rhode Island

43. Washington

42. Illinois

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