If you’ve ever experienced what it’s like to be top dog somewhere–the oldest and smartest sibling, the teacher’s pet and top student, or even the most impressive homeowner in the neighborhood–you know how hard it is to have someone come in and one-up you. It’s pretty humbling and it makes most people want to up their game and work hard to get back in that coveted first place.
Unfortunately, Minnesota seems to be in the place of a displaced older sibling these days. Once upon a time, Minnesota was the pride of the nation in terms of education. Her schools were supposedly great and her shores even birthed the first charter schools, one of the earlier forms of education choice and innovation.
But recently a “little sibling” called Iowa, that unassuming neighbor dwelling on the southern border of Minnesota, began displacing our state’s position as education queen bee. In fact, a recent report from the Heritage Foundation labeled Iowa as one of the main states which made huge advances in four metrics last year: “education choice, teacher freedom, transparency, and return on investment.”
Iowa does best in the education choice category, ranking #4, a spot earned largely for the state’s recent passage of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which allow parents to take education dollars and use them at schools which best suit their children. The state also ranks high in transparency, coming in at #16 because of the recent parental bill of rights signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds (R). Such a law puts parents in charge, allowing them “to make decisions affecting the parents or guardian’s minor child, including decisions related to the minor child’s medical care, moral upbringing, religious upbringing, residence, education, and extracurricular activities.” Sounds like common sense, right?
By contrast, Minnesota comes in way down the line, ranking #45 in education choice and #29 in transparency. As the image below shows, there is a fixed gulf between these two neighboring states, both in overall score and especially in the area of education choice. It truly seems that Minnesota’s neighbor to the south has surpassed her, quickly proving itself the one to look to for the best future for children and families.
But all is not lost for the good citizens of Minnesota. As the Heritage Foundation explains, were Minnesota to pass an ESA bill, ushering in more choice and freedom to the state’s students, the state would improve considerably in terms of its educational standing.
So what are we waiting for? It’s time to pass ESAs in this state and help Minnesota get back in the game, becoming once again one of the top states when it comes to providing solid education for our students!
Image Credit: Deviant Art