More transparency leads to better decisions. In all areas of government, we know this to be true. But this fact is especially important when it comes to making decisions that dictate the success of our children. However, in Louisiana, parents have scant access to valuable financial data for our schools. Therefore parents, key decision-makers and investors in their child’s education, are unable to clearly understand how taxpayer money is being used to help their student succeed. With more access to valuable data about their schools’ performance, parents can make decisions that create greater outcomes for kids.

Across the country, states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, and West Virginia have made impressive efforts to increase transparency and accountability for students by producing online checkbooks which allow taxpayers to see critical government financial data.

Lafayette Parish School Board has recently taken huge steps forward in increasing its own education transparency for parents and students. In 2018, the school system created its own transparency checkbook, a convenient online tool for viewing the government’s budget and expenses. It should be our priority to create a model that generates transparent, meaningful, and actionable information for parents and school systems alike. This would allow them to make the decisions that matter for their child’s education and make our education system more responsive to the needs of our children.

Despite spending more per child than our southeastern neighbors, Louisiana’s schools rank at the bottom of the country. Yet, the current state of financial transparency from Louisiana’s education system is terribly insufficient. The current financial figures are rudimentary and hardly allow parents to determine whether taxpayer dollars are following their students into the classroom. More robust transparency requirements can lead to better accountability, encouraging better outcomes for students.

Schools are there to provide a quality education that can help the next generation  succeed in society and their own lives. Parents should be able to see how our school system is performing and investing in our children. Without the ability for parents to fully understand the inputs and outputs of their schools, it is difficult to empower them to advocate for their child in the community or to make decisions that would put them on a clear path to success.