Several blog readers have responded grumpily to my posts suggesting that states might be better off investing incremental education dollars in raising teacher salaries rather than hiring more teachers. Fair enough. But one point many of us have agreed on is that too much of the education budget has gone to hiring more and more administrators. I’ve linked to at least one study that supports this point. Now I’ve got much better ammunition!
According to today’s edition of the Education Gadfly Weekly (published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute), a new study has found that:
Between 1950 and 2009, the number of K-12 public school students increased by 96 percent. During that same period, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew by 386 percent. Of those personnel, the number of teachers increased by 252 percent, while the ranks of administrators and other staff grew by 702 percent—more than 7 times the increase in students.
To put that in perspective, the same article notes that:
if student growth had matched that of non-teaching personnel from 1992 to 2009 and if the teaching force had only grown 1.5 times faster than the pupil enrollment, American public schools would have an additional $37.2 billion to spend per year—the equivalent of an $11,700 a year increase in salary for every American public school teacher.
By the way, the study includes a state by state breakdown. From Fiscal Year 1992 to Fiscal Year 2009, the number of Utah public school students grew 23 percent. The number of Utah teachers grew 29 percent. The number of administrators and other staff grew 69 percent. So while Utah has not experienced the explosive education employment growth that many other states have witnessed (that won’t surprise any of you), the administrator increases still might offer some budget wiggle room.
The presidential candidates are currently dueling over how many new teachers school districts should hire (and, probably more importantly, which level of government should be making these hiring decisions.) Any chance we could spark a debate about how we could raise teacher salaries by thinning administrative ranks?
Here’s a direct link to the study.