While numerous Texas school districts divert resources to suing the state over the current finance system, new information has come to light about just how much administrative growth there has been in the last twenty years in our school districts. The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice has released a report entitled “The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment in America’s Public Schools.” Among the startling statistics is this one about Texas: between 1992 and 2009, Texas student enrollment only grew 37%, and in response administrative and non-teaching staff employment ballooned by 172%.
Really makes you wonder where the nerve comes from to beg for tax increases and bond money “for the children,” doesn’t it?
The Friedman report is a nationwide study, so there is plenty in there to appall even the sternest of constitutions. Since 1950, student enrollment nationwide has only increased by 96% – while full-time employment in school districts has grown an astonishing 386%. There is no evidence that students’ academic achievement has grown in proportion, and indeed it seems to have fallen off or grown stagnant. As an added bonus, had teaching staff grown “only” at a similar rate to student growth, there would be a tremendous cost-savings nationwide – to the tune of approximately $37.2 billion per year.
The report touches on everything from public high school graduation rates (slightly lower in 2008 than they were four decades previous), standardized test scores (reading scores fell between 1992 and 2008), poverty vs. childhood achievement (largely unrelated), and comparisons in teacher-pupil and staff-pupil ratios in every state.
As we go to the polls these next two weeks, and some of us look at school trustee elections and bond initiatives, these are things we should be thinking about. Are we getting the most “bang for our buck” in our school property taxes – is there a responsible balance of administrative and teaching staff, and are our tax dollars going where they can do the most good (the classroom!)? The Friedman report hits on a ton of issues that are important to every parent, student, and taxpayer in our country.
(h/t Americans for Prosperity)