While the education transparency locomotive hasn’t been derailed, the engineer has pulled the brakes a couple times. Open union negotiations legislation was sent to its death in a Democratic-controlled Senate committee. Meanwhile, a key higher education transparency bill has spent many weeks accumulating dust while the session clock quickly approaches midnight.
Union agreements bind many local school boards in how they use public funds, while also setting priorities and policies for local schools and classrooms. What other private group do we allow to have secret meetings with government officials over tax dollars and official policies? Following a 2010 K-12 financial transparency law, HB 1118 would open union negotiations to public view. The education transparency train rolls on.
Host Amy Oliver and senior policy analyst Ben DeGrow discuss the findings of a new Education Policy Center report that tracks how well Colorado local K-12 agencies are complying with a 2010 state law requiring greater online financial transparency. DeGrow, who co-authored the report with research associate Devan Crean, highlights both the large number of school districts that fall short of the standard as well as a few large and small districts that are setting the standard above and beyond the law’s requirements.
Led by Ed News Colorado, local media cover the release of the new Independence Institute report on the state of financial transparency among local K-12 agencies.
Today it is more important than ever for governments to be financially transparent. The funds of public K-12 agencies in particular should be spent wisely to improve student learning. Colorado’s 2010 Public School Financial Transparency Act requires local education providers to post specified financial information online. Out of 178 school districts, 16 BOCES and the Charter School Institute, only 25 websites were fully compliant with the law’s requirement 90 days after the July 1, 2011, deadline to post expenditures through check registers and purchase card statements.
Watch this 3-part YouTube replay of the February 5 broadcast of Independent Thinking with host Jon Caldara, as Jeffco Public Schools CFO Lorie Gillis and our own policy analyst Ben DeGrow discuss the growing trend of local governments opening up their checkbooks.
Jeffco Public Schools has become a national leader among school districts by creating a top-notch financial transparency database. Colorado lawmakers have introduced two new transparency bills in 2010. As proposals are debated and initiatives implemented and upgraded, both state and local policy makers can benefit by understanding the criteria of effective financial transparency.
As the influence of organized labor grows in Colorado’s public sector, so does the need for greater accountability and transparency. Through stricter enforcement of a federal law designed to ferret out union corruption, the U.S. Department of Labor in recent years has set the highest standard for disclosure of union finances. This enforcement has yielded real but limited gains in bringing restitution to members and fee-payers wronged by the malfeasance of certain union officials.
Education policy analyst Ben DeGrow joins host Amy Oliver to explain the case for Colorado school districts opening up their detailed financial records so taxpayers can search them online, as highlighted in his new issue backgrounder “Shining the Light on Colorado School Spending”. Colorado has the chance to become a national leader in online financial transparency in education.
Watch this 3-part YouTube replay of the January 26 episode of Independent Thinking with host Jon Caldara. Guests citizen activist Natalie Menten and Independence Institute policy analyst Ben DeGrow discuss spending transparency in Colorado school districts and pending legislation.