Citizens Speak Out Loud and Clear for Transparent Colorado School Spending

A couple weeks ago I noted that “Leaner Budget Times Call for Colorado Schools to Post Finances Online”. Yesterday the state senate education committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 57 (PDF) – which would do just that.

Despite the great potential for government cost savings, opponents and a few committee members expressed concerns that schools couldn’t afford to enact transparency during these trying budget times. But if not now, when?

When one bureaucratic opponent said there wasn’t enough public interest to make it worthwhile to create an online searchable database, super citizen Natalie Menten wowed the room with the story of her homemade database of Jefferson County Schools credit card purchases that has attracted thousands of site visits in the matter of a few months.

Go here for an excellent account of the nearly 20 grassroots supporters who came forward on behalf of SB 57 in the committee room yesterday. (You also can find more in this informative account from Ed News Colorado.)

Ahead of the many eloquent accounts from citizens who took time off or traveled great distances to the State Capitol, my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow provided testimony that covered the highlights of his new issue backgrounder (PDF) and the themes in his Denver Daily News op-ed:

Shining sunlight on the detailed financial picture for all to see would help strengthen the “public” in public education.

I think that’s an excellent point. If you have a few minutes to take time and listen, Ben elaborates on the issue in an iVoices podcast with Amy Oliver:

Like Colorado parents deserve to know how well their children’s schools are performing through the School Accountability Reports (and the new Growth Model), all Colorado taxpayers should be afforded a better glimpse into the details of school spending. Technology puts this kind of accountability easily within reach, and opens the door to many benefits for students and the state of Colorado.