Nationally: school employees have doubled while enrollment is up less than 9%

Public-school employees have doubled in 40 years while student enrollment has increased by only 8.5%—and academic results have stagnated.” That is the deck of a July 9, 2012 Wall Street Journal article by Andrew Coulson. Here are the salient points in Coulson’s article:

  • “Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers’ aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. “
  • “…. [Look at] the “long-term trends” of 17-year-olds on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress. These tests, first administered four decades ago, show stagnation in reading and math and a decline in science. Scores for black and Hispanic students have improved somewhat, but the scores of white students (still the majority) are flat overall, and large demographic gaps persist. Graduation rates have also stagnated or fallen. So a doubling in staff size and more than a doubling in cost have done little to improve academic outcomes.”
  • “Nor can the explosive growth in public-school hiring be attributed to federal spending on special education. According to the latest Census Bureau data, special ed teachers make up barely 5% of the K-12 work force.”

Although I haven’t yet worked out the growth in employment, Timberlane may turn out to be the nation in a microcosm.  Timberlane middle school has one principal and three assistant principals. TRHS has one principal, one associate principal, and four assistant principals. I don’t know about you, but I managed to get through school without getting shot or mugged with just one principal and one vice principal for a very large junior/senior high school. I even learned how to write an essay. At an SAU meeting, Mr. LaSalle proudly spoke of his achievement in Timberlane having a near 100% graduation rate. One can wonder given our academic scores, if this doesn’t reflect more on our standards than on the effectiveness of our administrators.

Here is a link to the article for as long as the link stays live:


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Filed under SAU 55 Issues, School Board Issues

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