In today’s hyper-partisan times, there is at least one thing all Louisianans should agree on: our state is struggling to provide a quality education for its students.

Our state continues to lag behind the rest of the nation, ranking 46 out of 50 in quality of schools and second to last in quality of education. The current educational system not only hurts the students trying to benefit from it, it also hinders our prospects to lure more jobs and opportunity back to the Bayou State.

Further troubling is the amount of money Louisiana taxpayers shell out for poor returns on educational outcome. Louisiana spends over $12,000 per child, close to the national average, but still ranks near the bottom of educational rankings. To make matters worse, Louisiana outspends all of its neighboring states: nearly $3,000 more per pupil than Texas and more than $2,000 more than Florida. Those two states rank first and second in overall efficiency for spending, while Louisiana ranks 46.

So, if Louisiana spends close to the national average per pupil and more than its neighbors, why is the product not matching up? The Pelican Institute examines this question and more in its newly released “Citizens Guide to Education.”

In the Guide, the Pelican Institute also details its proposal to increase district-level transparency of how taxpayer funds are spent on education. By adding more transparency to the educational spending process, Louisiana’s local school districts will also become more accountable to those funding them. Just look at the wildly popular Lafayette Checkbook website as an example. Read more about the success of the Lafayette Checkbook in the Guide.

Some ideas for enhancing education spending transparency included in the Guide are:

  • Establishing baseline reporting mechanisms for how districts allocate expenditures to schools.
  • Listing learning outcomes of students AND how much the schools spent to achieve them
  • Adopting an online checkbook that makes spending numbers available for the public to see, just like in Lafayette Parish.

By increasing transparency, we will foster better accountability and ultimately ensure that more money makes it to the students and teachers, where it’s needed most. This is something we desperately need if we want improved results in classrooms across Louisiana.