Transparency, unless you get some on you!

The COVID pandemic has permitted parents across the country a direct look in at what their children are being taught. That has led to some surprised and concerned parents. Many of them have passionately expressed these concerns at school board meetings, including those in Laramie County. This is a very good thing. Passion is good, disrespect not so much. Those who have begun paying attention to how their children are being educated must be involved, but must do so with respect and good manners.

While those pesky parents that want to speak at board meetings may extend those meetings late into the night, it is the board member’s job to listen and hear what those people have to say.

The recent invitation from the Wyoming School Boards Association for local school boards to submit resolutions regarding transparency in education may be a positive for parents. But only if school districts ultimately become more open to parents and community members. School board members are elected and are responsible to parents and constituents in their districts. Curriculum and the materials that support it should be readily available for people to review.

School district budgets should also be easily reviewed. In Wyoming, most government budgets have been restrained in recent years, with the exception of growing school district budgets. Parents and voters across the state should be scrutinizing budgets and curriculum.

Laramie County School District 1 has unanimously passed a transparency resolution. A well meaning resolution may be a good start, but the follow on actions to open things up is the important part.

The WSBA plan is to use these resolutions submitted from school districts to develop legislative and legal strategies.

This is all fine and dandy in response to fervent parents who have been awakened and motivated to attend meetings and ask questions. But will this process actually provide more transparency, or rather end up providing new cover for the education system and extra hoops for parents to jump through to stay informed?

There are current state statutes that protect citizen’s rights to government meetings and documents, including school districts. If this effort creates more and easier access to school district information great! But if this undertaking is just another smoke screen to appease a currently enthusiastic public, why waste the time.

More government transparency is always a good thing. Hopefully this methodology concludes with improved access to our education system. But call me skeptical.