The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools, Part II

Source: Benjamin Scafidi, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, February 28, 2013

From the summary:
America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent, while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent, while administrators and other non-teaching staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.

That hiring pattern has persisted in more recent years as well. Between FY 1992 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students nationwide grew 17 percent, while the number of FTE school employees increased 39 percent. Among school personnel, teachers’ staffing numbers rose 32 percent, while administrators and other non-teaching staff experienced growth of 46 percent, 2.3 times greater than the increase in students over that 18-year period; the growth in the number of teachers was almost twice that of students….
Related:
Review of The School Staffing Surge, Part II
Reviewed By Joydeep Roy, Teachers College, Columbia University, March 2013

The School Staffing Surge, Part II is a companion report to a 2012 report called The School Staffing Surge. The earlier report argued that between 1992 and 2009, the number of full-time-equivalent school employees grew 2.3 times faster than the increase in students over the same period. It also claimed that despite these staffing increases, there was no progress on test scores or drop-out reductions. The new report disaggregates the trends in K-12 hiring for individual states and responds to some of the criticisms leveled at the original report. Yet this new report, like the original, fails to acknowledge that achievement scores and dropout rates have steadily improved. What it does instead is present ratios comparing the number of administrators and other non-teaching staff to the number of teachers or students, none of which has been shown to bear any meaningful relationship to student achievement. Neither the old report nor this new one explores the causes and consequences of employment growth. When a snapshot of hiring numbers is not benchmarked against the needs and realities of each state, it cannot illuminate the usefulness or wastefulness of hiring. The new companion report, much like the original one, is devoid of any important policy implications.