Saturday | July 23, 2016
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Teachers outnumbered

Taxpayers bearing the brunt of funding the public sector, along with public school teachers complaining of tight budgets, should be infuriated that a new study finds 21 states have more nonteaching staff than teachers on their school payrolls.

Moreover, increases in public school employment from 1992-2009 appear to have produced no positive results for students as measured by test scores and graduation rates, says the study, conducted by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

States could have saved more than $24 billion a year if they simply held the increase of administrators and other nonteaching staff to the same growth rate as student enrollment from 1992-2009, the report concluded.

For decades, a steady proliferation of administrative and nonteaching positions has resulted from public schools broadening their mission and accommodating government mandates.

Twenty-one states employ more bus drivers, librarians, cafeteria workers, deputy superintendents, accountants, coaches, nurses, assistant principals and other nonteaching personnel than classroom teachers, the Friedman study found.

While, in those 21 states, nonteaching positions now are a majority of their school workforces, the overall trend is national. From 1950-2009, K-12 public school students increased 96 percent, while full-time-equivalent school employees soared 386 percent, four times faster. While teachers increased 252 percent, administrators and other nonteaching staff grew 702 percent, more than seven times the enrollment growth.

The study calculated “extra” positions by comparing staffing with the rate of increase in student enrollment. Texas tops the list, with 149,228 “extra” nonteaching staff.

“In Texas, taxpayers would have saved almost $6.4 billion annually if public schools’ nonteaching personnel had not outpaced students,” the report stated. “Virginia, Ohio, New York, California and Pennsylvania each would have annual, recurring savings in the billions.” By comparison, Nevada and Arizona saved money because administrative and nonteaching personnel did not outpace student growth.

“Taxpayers should be outraged public schools hired so many nonteaching personnel with such little academic improvement among students to show for it,” said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman group. The Register’s Editorial Board agrees with the Friedman Foundation that much of the money spent on nonteaching positions could be put to better use. It might be used to reward exemplary teachers, or provide children in underperforming schools with tuition vouchers to attend a private school.

“Instead,” Enlow said, “states have allowed these enormous bureaucracies to grow.” Bureaucracies, we might add, that have little to do with the direct education of children.

— From the Orange County Register


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