I'm slow in pointing out this interesting experiment by Dave Bangert at Lafayette's Journal & Courier. He asked members of the editorial board's reader panel to find education data on the Indiana Department of Education web site. Not surprisingly, they struggled.
"This is a lot like almost all government operations — obfuscate the numbers so that the taxpayer has a lot of trouble knowing what is going on, even though the bureaucrats will maintain that they are 'transparent,'" said Wayne Merriman, a retired Great Lakes Chemical employee, who tried to locate budget information.
My own assessment of the DOE site is that someone placed style over substance. The site is clean and uncluttered, it's just not user-friendly. While it might make perfect sense to some young ed department staffer to arrange information under simple titles, I suspect a young parent looking for school information for a child with special needs will be baffled.
I spend enough time looking for information on the site that I now can find what I need, but it's far more difficult than it was in past years. The site also seems to be down for maintenance more often than it used to be.
Bangert makes an excellent point: "The lack of financial data about state money flowing to private schools is particularly glaring in its absence," he writes. "Now that state money is in private school coffers, shouldn't that information be just as accessible as it is for public schools?"
Yes, it should. Test data for private schools and charter schools should be easy to find, as well. An administration that shamelessly promotes school choice to the detriment of public education should be willing to make all data easily accessible so parents can make their own decisions.
If "choice" is going rule Indiana schools, let's at least make it an informed choice.