Florida is best state for education, economy in 2024, study finds

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida ranked number one in education and economy by the U.S. News and World Report for 2024, despite education becoming a contentious topic in the state.

U.S. News and World Report ranked Florida as the top state for education based on affordability, accessibility and achievement. The organization noted that controversial moves by Gov. Ron DeSantis targeting education likely aren’t reflected in the data.

“Many education metrics are tied to the year 2022, for example, and policy shifts may take time to play out,” the organization wrote in an explanation surrounding the ranking.

“In K-12, there is a lot of data out there that shows Florida performs no better than it did 20 years ago,” Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar told U.S. News and World Report.

The state generally ranked more favorable in higher education metrics than in those for Pre-K to 12. The state ranked first in tuition in fees, and second in both two-year and four-year graduation rates. It ranked middle-of-the-pack for high school graduation rates and National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and math scores.

The National Education Association recently found that Florida ranked worst in the nation in terms of teacher pay for 2022-2023, dropping two spots from 2021-2022.

Spar said the state ranked 36th in teacher pay in 2010, before what he called “an all-out assault on public education” by Republican governors Rick Scott and DeSantis.

“When I look at all the factors, I really can’t see Florida leading on education,” he said.

As for the economy, Florida was ranked first due to its performances in growth, employment and business environment, according to U.S. News and World Report. It moved up six spots from its ranking in 2023.

Sean Snaith, director of the UCF Institute for Economic Forecasting, told U.S. News and Report that the economic growth is largely due to population growth.

“It’s not a bug, it’s a feature,” he said.

This article was originally published by a www.wfla.com

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