The Education Department gets a “most improved” from Politics K-12 for finally putting the initial applications for state fiscal stabilization funding online—and living up to the transparency standards President Obama has set for spending stimulus money.
I’ve been making the case for this for weeks now (here and here), and other folks have joined in a call for more transparency as well. (UPDATE: To clarify, the Education Department has always posted online the final applications once they were approved, but at issue were the initial applications states submitted—before any changes were made.)
This is more than just a philosophical debate. It’s important that the public be able to see what a state initially promises to do with its stimulus money, and what it ends up promising to do after any negotiations with the Education Department. What will be interesting to see, as well, is if the Education Department posts these initial applications as soon as they arrive, so the public has a chance to weigh in before the Education Department approves them. About 20 states have yet to submit their applications, and there’s less than a month before the July 1 application deadline. (JUNE 11 UPDATE: ED has indeed started posting initial applications, before they’re approved, online.)
Many more decisions on transparency will likely vex the Education Department. To name just one: Will officials make public and put online all of the applications for Race to the Top funding, once that process gets started, or just those that win the competitive grants?