Tuesday, October 23, 2012
New Hampshire Union Leader
A report released by a school choice advocacy group says employment of non-teachers in New Hampshire school districts has increased at a rate that far outstrips the increase in student enrollment.
The study, by George State College economist Ben Scafidi and due for release today, was done for the Milton and Rosa Friedman Foundation for School Choice.
Milton Friedman was a Nobel Prize winning economist and free-market advocate known for strong support of voucher systems for public education.
In his research, Scafidi looked at staffing and enrollment levels in the states from 1992-2009.
He found that while there was an increase of 11.7 percent in public school enrollment in New Hampshire during the period, overall school staffing jumped by 55.8 percent.
Nationally, the study said, student enrollment grew by 17 percent and school staffing by 39 percent.
The biggest increases in school employment, the study claims, came in the ranks of non-teachers, a category that includes administrators.
With a student population increase of less than 12 percent, New Hampshire’s public schools increased non-teaching staff by 80.3 percent over the 18-year period, the fourth-highest rate of increase in the country, behind only Colorado, Texas and Virginia.
The number of teachers in New Hampshire increased by 36.6 percent over the same period, the study said
Scafidi speculates on the impact of increased non-teaching employment in public schools. He concludes that the hiring of large numbers of non-teachers means the quality of the workforce may be diminished. And, he theorizes that the results indicate a swelling in the ranks of administrators, whose very existence creates additional non-educational responsibilities for classroom teachers.
“Another concern with hiring more non-teaching staff is the possibility it increases bureaucracy and reduces the amount of time and energy teachers can devote to their students,” he said.
The study was based on an analysis of the U.S. Department of Education’s Digest of Education Statistics and did not examine reasons for the additional staff or their responsibilities.
Referring to education as one of the “front lines in the battle for capitalism,” Scafidi claims public schools have compiled a “dismal record” in recent decades, referring to lower high school graduation rates and flat standardized test scores.
On the other hand, Scafidi finds “positive evidence on school choice,” using as evidence studies that show public schools improving when forced to compete with viable school choice options.
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Bill Smith may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.