The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

Advancing Milton and Rose D. Friedman's Vision of School Choice for All Children

Mackinac Center | 'Non-Teaching' Staff Up 702 Percent Since 1950

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Michael Van Beek

Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Michigan public schools have 4.2 percent more students than in 1992, but the number of non-teaching school employees is up 19.1 percent, an increase that’s four times larger.

The number of teachers here grew 14.2 percent in that time, more than three times larger. The figures are from a just-released study by the Friedman Foundation, a national education reform group, and come from data provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

The report’s author, Benjamin Scafidi, an economist at Georgia College & State University, also found that for the nation as a whole, compared to 1950 there are 96 percent more public school students but a staggering 700 percent more administrators and other non-teaching staff, and 250 percent more teachers. State-level changes since 1950 were not reported.

Scafidi calculates that since 1992, if the number of non-teaching public school staff nationwide had only increased at the same rate as student population growth, taxpayers would be carrying 606,633 fewer non-teaching employees on public payrolls. Based on a conservative estimate of each one of these employees costing $40,000, taxpayers would have saved $24.3 billion in 2009. Or, alternatively, that money could have been used to boost average teacher pay by $7,500.

Student performance has not increased much despite more teachers and what the report calls non-teaching staff “bloat.” Scafidi reports that nationally, public high school graduation rates peaked around 1970; while high school reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (considered the “nation’s report card”) fell slightly between 1992 and 2008, and high school math scores were stagnant.

The full report can be seen here.

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