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Public Schools Burdened By Bureaucrats

Posted: 2/14/2013

Education reformers contend that public schools spend too much on non-teaching personnel
Education reformers contend that public schools spend too much on non-teaching personnel.

(NAPSI)—America’s public schools are bloated with bureaucracy and skinny on results. To curb that trend, a new report has proposed a strict diet: Focus on students, empower their parents, and reward great teachers.

Since 1950, the number of public school non-teaching positions has soared 702 percent nationwide while the student population increased 96 percent, according to “The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools.” That report, from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, shows teachers’ numbers also increased--252 percent—but still far short of administrators and non-teaching personnel.

Academic outcomes, however, have not experienced similar growth. Public high school graduation rates peaked around 1970, and government data show reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fell slightly between 1992 and 2008. Math scores on the NAEP long-term trend were stagnant during the same period.

“It really is a travesty when you consider the billions spent on hiring and how little we have to show for it,” said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation. “If non-teaching personnel grew at the rate of students, each teacher could be given a $7,500 raise, every child in poverty could get a $1,700 private school scholarship, or taxpayers could see some much-needed savings.”

In total, had non-teaching personnel increased at the same rate as students, American public schools would have an additional $24.3 billion annually, according to the Friedman report.

Notably, that hiring trend has been just as prominent over the past two decades. From 1992 to 2009, students’ numbers increased 17 percent whereas administrators and other non-teaching staff rose 46 percent. And during that time, some states actually lost students yet kept hiring more non-teachers.

For instance, in Hawaii, student enrollment in public schools jumped about 3 percent, while non-teaching personnel grew almost 69 percent. In the District of Columbia, the student population declined some 15 percent while non-teaching personnel increased 42 percent.

The study also debunks the claim that students today are “harder to teach” than those from previous generations, which some use to defend the decades-long staffing increases.

The Friedman Foundation contends that if all Americans were able to access schools of choice, such as private or charter schools, greater efficiency and productivity could be achieved as parents choose less-bloated schools where their children’s funding can go the furthest.

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