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In fact, the states at the top of her ranking are led or recently have been led by noted union critics. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, which comes in at No. 1 on the list, recently gave a speech in the District in which he said teachers unions are “working hard every day, spending millions of dollars every year, to make sure you never get the opportunity to get your child out of a failing school and into a different school.”

Florida came in at No. 2. Its former governor, Jeb Bush, has also been a harsh critic of unions and, like Ms. Rhee, has tirelessly pushed policies deemed unacceptable by labor groups.

Current Sunshine State Gov. Rick Scott further angered unions by tapping frequent union target Tony Bennett to head the state’s school system.

Mr. Bennett formerly led schools in Indiana ?— which finished No. 3 — but was ousted by voters last November after shepherding through a number of controversial reforms opposed by teachers unions.

For all the opposition to her rankings, Ms. Rhee was also commended by many across the nation for providing a blunt, critical take on the state of U.S. schools.

State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle lauded the report card, as did several governors. Mr. Jindal and Maine Gov. Paul LePage said the study deserves to be examined closely by policymakers.

Leaders of state chambers of commerce, business councils and other groups declared that the report highlights the great and growing need for serious education reform in the U.S.