Saturday, March 25, 2006

Let the Sun Shine

Some lessons for all public officials can be learned from J. C. Bowman's critique of the Hamilton County School Board.

It astonishes me that any political body could continue to operate like the Hamilton County Board of Education. It appears to even the most casual readers or observers that BOE members often exhibit irrational thought. Real leaders have no problem ensuring transparency by reporting accurately, clearly and comprehensively on their activities, maintaining objectivity and remaining free of conflicts of interest.

Most state and local governments have adopted freedom of information acts in order to have a more open government. However, despite the laws gaining public access to data and information takes great effort. Removing unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles should be the goal of every candidate for public office. Strangely calls for greater openness have strangely encountered fierce resistance from some quarters. Taxpaying citizens can make better decisions when they are well-versed on the issues that concern them the most. Institutions reliant on taxpayer support cannot flourish in an atmosphere of widespread public distrust.

It appears to me that many times these officials and school boards assume that the public needs caretaking more than we need information. Those involved in education especially seem to creepily treat us like we're still in First Grade and not adults with children, mortgages and successful careers of our own. The fact is if they've done their jobs correctly we're quite able to process information and come to conclusions. Of course, I'm sure the fear for some is that we've learned outside of their classrooms and so will come to the 'wrong' conclusions.

Either way, we've paid for the information. Let go of it--all of it and in a timely fashion.

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