It has been almost 40 years since A Nation At Risk drew a giant target on the back of public education. Called a “report,” the publication was actually a type of writing now all too familiar–a collection of poorly researched assertions wrapped around pre-fabricated opinions, all published in a slick package to give it the authority of a scientific study. And despite the fact that its most sensation assertions have never come to pass (education’s failure was going to bring about the collapse of the US any day now), it has never been widely rejected. Instead, it ushered in an era of hostility toward public education.
The last couple of decades, ushering in the era of modern education reform-via-disruption, have only ramped up the attacks. No Child Left Behind marked the government’s adoption of hostility to public education as official policy; most of society’s ills, we were told, are rooted in the classroom, and standards and tests were needed to root out all the bad teachers and bad schools. The reformy alliance between Democrats and Republicans gave lefties and neo-liberals and technocrats the cover needed to start treating public schools as the problem, and by then time that entente fell apart under President Trump, the opponents of public education had a full head of steam even as few political leaders had any memory of how to defend public education at all.
So the practical question emerges for teachers and parents and citizens who value public education–where is the attack on public education at its worst? Where are policy and rhetoric most aggressively focused on breaking down public education, selling the parts, and replacing it? Which states are most hostile to public education?
Here at the Curmudgucation Institute, we’ve developed an instrument for making that determination– the American Public Education State Hostility Index (APESHI). This collection of data points looks at many aspects of hostile policy, from funding to leadership trash talk to recent moves to limit what teachers can say in a classroom. While many of these data points may require a certain amount of judgment, our team has utilized insightful models of study which result in numbers, and if it’s numbers, it must be science.
The results are not entirely surprising. Florida has worked hard to make it to the top of the rankings, and no one should be surprised to find them there. The bottom spot this year belongs to Massachusetts, and everything in between may provide some unexpected results. Complete data is elsewhere on this site.
Media inquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our lead researcher will be happy to talk to interested reporters.