Arnold Kling  

Staffing of Schools

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Andrew Coulson writes

Teachers make up 72 percent of on-site staff in Arizona’s independent education sector, but less than half of on-site staff in the public sector. In order to match the independent sector’s emphasis on teachers over non-teaching staff, Arizona public schools would have to hire roughly 25,000 more teachers and dismiss 21,210 non-teaching employees.

I am not at all surprised by this. As I pointed out long ago, one of the miracles of public education is that the school system charges more than $10,000 per student, puts 25 students in the classroom, and still pays teachers (far) less than $100,000 per year. The secret for doing this is to pad the school system (and the teacher's union) with non-teaching staff.

Coulson's full study is here. I would bet that where I live in Maryland at least 40 percent of school system employees are not in the classroom. My guess, however, is that in order to avoid embarrassment, the county avoids breaking down the data that way.

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COMMENTS (10 to date)
Mark Seecof writes:

Despite a strict statute (Calif. Education Code Sections 41401-41407) requiring a high ratio of teachers to administrators in public schools (e.g., 100 teachers for every 9 administrators in elementary schools) and requiring annual audits, and prescribing fairly stiff monetary penalties for non-compliance; despite all that, California's teachers' unions have managed to ensure that schools employ almost as many non-teachers as teachers. Of course, many of the non-teachers are "credentialled," they just don't actually teach any students.

The California experience proves that nothing short of school choice (competition) can possibly correct the waste and featherbedding in the public schools.

Kent Gatewood writes:

Vouchers would be one way to get competition. Should faith based groups qualify?

Michael Giampaoli writes:

Kent wrote, "Should faith based groups qualify?". All schools are faith-based. The current public education system is faith-based. It takes incredible faith to believe that the government schools provide any relevant schooling. Parents with a choice will choose that school that they have the most faith in to produce desired results. Who is capable or qualified to question their faith?

Shawn Mallison writes:

My oldest went off to publicly funded kindergarten just a few weeks back. Since then the quality of his education has significantly declined. He was learning much more at home! Daily we witness teachers and other employees doing the minimum necessary to get buy while at the same time suggesting we participate in the next fund raiser (I think we are up to three already). I have been shocked by what I have seen in the last couple of weeks. A little more competition might be just what is needed to create positive results.

Steve writes:

Are you sure teachers are paid "far less" than $100,000 when the cost of their (often relatively extravagent) benefits is included? It seems like if you are trying to see what portion of the 250k/classroom goes to instruction, you'd need to add payroll taxes, too. I don't know what teachers in AZ make, but a lot of them in MI make 50-70k in salary. I bet this would put the expense of their total compensation close to 100k.

Steve writes:

I should have read the study. I see the answer to my question is there.

I also want to make clear I was in no way arguing that public schools are efficient. I just was skeptical of the assertion that the cost to the school of employing a teacher didn't approach 100k/year in many cases.

RogerM writes:

In defense of public schools, look at the unfunded mandates from the state and federal governments imposed on schools requiring the extra staff. If you could get rid of government meddling in the class room, schools could get rid of the extra staff and pay teachers more.

doug writes:

It is the best paying part time job around,I wonder what the non classroom people do on the numerous 1/2 days.

Bethany writes:

I argee with this statement. If you walk into any school you will find that there are more staff memeber than teachers at any given school. Why does the schools need some many staff members. Is it because they do not want a lot of responsiblity on their plate so the more people that work there the less they have to do. I think that it is wrong. Teachers work hard at what they do and it takes a lot of out of the classroom time. They are way under paid for the job and responsiblities that they are given. We expect so much out of the teachers of today's society and we repay them with a low salary.

Clint writes:

OH MY...I have never thought of it that way but your so right! They should do something about this...teachers who go to school 8-10 years to get a Doctorate deserve a pay of 100,000 dollars! I don't care what their major is, the university easily has that money to fund them if they dismissed those their paying 35,000 who don't even have a degree and who just make up space around the campus. Sure, janitors and things like that are needed but I have really seen some pointless people around campus. Sure, everyone has their place on a campus...but we could increase the hard working professors and doctors pay and decrease those pay/dismiss those who haven't/aren't needed as much around the campus. I personally wouldn't mind getting my doctorate and teaching at a Campus...So I am definately in favor of raising there pay!

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