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Study Reveals U.S. Schools Used To Do More With Less

April 1, 2013 by  

Study Reveals U.S. Schools Used To Do More With Less

Since the 1950s, public schools in the United States have seen their administrative rosters swell more than sevenfold, while their success at educating students has proportionately declined.

That fact, likely intuited by many who remember an era when American education was a lot more personal and a lot less bureaucratic, was revealed last month in Part Two of an ongoing study by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

Entitled “The School Staffing Surge,” the report notes that faculty employment numbers have so greatly exceeded the growth in public schools’ overall student population that schools seem now as equally obligated to cater to teacher demands as they are required to educate students.

Between 1950 and 2009, the number of public school children attending grades K-12 grew by 96 percent, while the number of full-time employees at public schools grew by 386 percent.

Amazingly, the study learned that “administrators and other non-teaching staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students” during that same time period.

At the same time, the study found that kids haven’t benefited in proportion with that kind of increase in teachers and administrators:

[T]he increases in public school employment since 1992 do not appear to have had any positive returns to students as measured by test scores and graduation rates. Some likely will try to cherry-pick an individual state and point out that a particular measure of student achievement increased at the same time that public school employment grew dramatically; however, such an approach is misleading because, across all states, public school employment surged, while student achievement did not measurably increase. If student achievement increased in a certain state, why did it not increase—or why did it decrease—in other states when public school employment increased?

…One should ask whether the significant resources used to finance employment increases could have been spent better elsewhere.

Friedman Institute fellow Benjamin Scafidi, who authored the report, called for a new approach (or, perhaps, a return to old ones) in revising the inefficient and still-accelerating administrative bloat in public education, noting the “burden of proof is now on those who still want to maintain or even increase the dramatically larger staffing levels in public schools.”

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • rswallick

    during the 60′s we were taught by the so called experts to not damage the childs self esteem and listen to their every whim, child centered. before the experts got involved, parents payed little attention to their kids, kids were expected to listen to their parents, not the other way around, so when kids got to school they listened to the adults (teacher), thus a teacher could easliy teach a class of 35 or more.

  • Warrior

    Is it a “fine” or is it a “tax”? It’s the “starting point”! Oblamacare even captures the “ones” able to escape the public edumacation system.

  • wavesofgrain

    Hmmm…when Unions started dictating education, the teachers/personnel no longer worked for the taxpayer…and the scores plummetted. I cringe when I hear of the new “Common Core” being developed. It will only cause a greater decline in education, dumbing down in preparation for the Global Agenda 21. As Steve Jobs once told Obama…get the Unions out of schools, or we will never have improvement.

  • empty pockets

    This is the other half od the equation dealing with our failing–or failed–educational system. The other part is parents and their increasing failure to “parent”. Add in the gov’t bullying to push out of the way any of those parents who actually WANT to do their job. Then again, it’s the same thing mostly. The grrowth of gov’t adding bureaucrats and bureaucracy…growing like a cancerous malignancy until it kills the host.

    • IndBill8066

      … killing the host is the end game with those in control/power now!

      They hate this country for which it originally stood and want worldwide totalitarian control!

  • IndBill8066

    History shows that the end is always the same if true progress is ever made… defiance of the government, king, tyrant, dictator, etc, must happen. Do you think that it will end any different for the once great U.S.A.?

  • Dave

    Education used to be more than just memorization for a test. Intelligence used to be something to aspire to. The current crop of conservatives calls that intelligence “elitism”. Critical thinking skills used to be coveted. Today, its your ability to keep the same position even with confronted with facts that diosprove that position otherwise you are a flip-flopper or a DINO or a RINO.

    Its quite sad.

  • George Chatraw

    There is no big mystery here. This is the result of the government takeover by the federal school system. I went to school in the 50′s, there were no police in the schools because there was discipline of the kids. There was no ADD (or what ever those attention disorders are) because kids were taught manners and respect for authority AT HOME by the parents instead being raised by a daycare center minimum wage idiot. There was no obesity because kids played outdoors instead spending all their free time sitting in front of a video game consuming large amounts of junk food. There were no “social promotions” for those who refuse to learn, you got a passing grade or you stayed in the same class until you did. That was when the schools were run by the county school system and the citizens with kids were involved in the educational system. I haven’t been to school in more than 50 years and I STILL have a better education than any current high school graduate of today. The federal government has NEVER been able to operate any program better than the local government of citizens. Our country is the result of a massive government takeover of the local programs that were successful until the feds took control.

    • carolinerh

      Exactly my point – parents not doing their job and then complain about government interference and higher taxes. You asked for it and now you have it. Ain’t life grand?

      • old hillbilly

        what can one say. More & more pyramids of drones creating more controls, more paperwork, more idiots shifting gears & playing with the fire-hose during nap time, and of course making sure there are no calories or worthwhle substances in the chicken teeth soup.

        One of many things learned in many years of healing failed businesses, is, if it ain’t working get rid of it. That’s why corporations are sold. It’s also why no one buys government – And. it’s a reason failure can be easily turned into success!

        Rather than writing a book, you hire a COMPETENT teacher with a big wide belt and a determination to rule the roost, & you’ll produce citizens who can read write and respect!

  • Right Brain Thinker

    Another article quoting a “study” from a right wing “Foundation” with an ax to grind. A PHD (Piled Higher and Deeper) collection of statistics interpreted in such a way as to cast doubt on the job the schools are doing. As usual, the purpose is to promote “free markets” and the privatization of more government services so that the greedy rich can cash in. Just like prisons and roads.

    Of course Ben must do a little propagandizing with “schools seem now as equally obligated to cater to teacher demands as they are required to educate students”, and wavesofgrain chips in with more obligatory union-bashing by stating “…when Unions started dictating education”.

    I’ve been retired from education for 20 years now but have kept up with developments, particularly in VA, where I spent most of my career as a school administrator. Since VA is a right to work state and there are NO teacher “unions” here, Ben and wavesof can feel free to flush their toilets at this time and send that horsepucky off for treatment..

    If one reads the “study”, one will find out that VA leads in having an “overload” of administrators. Part of that is due to VA’s educational system being organized at the county level, with the result being many large school systems, one of which had the largest school bus fleet in the entire nation.. Big enterprises need bigger staffs than one room schools. Even back in my day, we had too many REMF’s getting in our way, and the situation has only gotten worse as the state and federal governments have intruded more on what goes on in the local school districts. In VA, the accountability performance measurements required by our Standards of Quality have created a whole new bureaucracy. And we all know how it goes with bureaucracies.

    There are many reasons for declining performance on the part of students, and most of them can be laid not at the foot of the educators but on the society at large, with politicians and parents more to blame than educators. “Free choice” in education is just another smokescreen for the plutocracy as they seek to dismantle what made this country great. Anti-education, anti-science, anti-thinking—-it all leads to the production of the “perfect serf” for the coming corporate feudal state.

  • carolinerh

    Since I graduated college with a life time teaching certificate just before the feds got involved in public education and teacher unions started springing up, I taught more than 40 students without an aide, with counselors (who really know how to ruin a kid’s psyche! because their own are screwed up!), and freebies. In grade school, I was always in a class of more than 40, we had to purchase our own tablets, pencils, crayons, etc. and I came from a large poor family but education was paramount for us, and in high school uniforms to be purchased or made, and then college working half days or evenings, lunches, bus fare, clothes, and BOOKS which were not as expensive then, thank God, but still we could buy them even 4th hand and they were still up-to-date basics. Then when I taught after the feds and unions, harping on small classes which have resolved nothing, feds telling teachers what and how to teach so we have ill-educated teachers who never learned class control (an essential first step to learn in teaching), perverts both male and female because teachers are not longer vetted, meaning their backgrounds and morals scrutinized, and could a teacher read, write and do math themselves. So, here we are today with brainwashing against America by ill-taught teachers who have weird leanings both politically and morally, lack of students actually graduating all levels of schools without knowing how to read, write, do math or even handle a checkbook. Yep, our bad, folks, because we did not want to parent, but spawn like salmon, and took no responsibility about the future of our children nor our country. Now, are you really ready to stand and be counted in getting the changes we need made that really bring hope? I pray to God that you are because otherwise this year marks the end of America in so many ways! Teachers in many parts of the USA are overpaid and do very little, even allowing teacher aides to teach! What irony! No education or even good English and you can teach for a few bucks, while the supposed teacher gets a huge salary and doesn’t teach. Love it, don’t you? Parents doing the child’s homework, instead of allowing the responsibility for study and homework to a child, but, hey, it’s okay to watch TV, text, play around with the opposite sex in your bedroom, etc. Gee, this is history being repeated because we did not not want to learn and take responsibility. So, now on forums you complain but how many of you admit you are the one at fault for this disarray of the American way. What are you really contributing besides verbiage to a real solution. Frankly, most of you are cowards, afraid of your shadows, and know you, too, are inept and ill-educated and too lazy to get better educated by going to the library and getting books to teach yourself. We should be ashamed of ourselves and allowing government to take over because that IS COMMUNISM AND SLAVERY AND DEATH!

    • wavesofgrain

      carolinerh…most of what you say makes great sense. I also believe that the more schools put the blame on parents, the more you widen the playing field for students. It is a form of discrimination, as there are so many variables in each students personal lives. This, in turn, leaves a student to feel inferior when the schools are harping on students that their parents should be the ones that determine their scholastic outcome. As many do NOT have a “Donna Reed” family, they grow up feeling resentment…not only towards their parents, but the schools that are seemingly insulting their parents. They begin to harbor hate, they begin to feel a total failure. Is it any wonder that you see such massive school shootings?

      That is why I believe it is up to the teacher to tutor and teach in class. In the 50′s-60′s, I had no homework until 9th grade. By the time our class reached 6th grade, ALL could read, write and spell. There were no aides, the teachers spent the entire day tutoring/teaching and monitoring in-house quizes…and then reviewing with all students wrong answers. Parents, at least in my community, rarely got involved in school issues, unless the teacher sent home a note. The burden of educating our children was left to the teacher, not the parents…as our tax dollars were intended to work.

  • Dad

    The lack of knowledge from the graduates is only surpassed by thier laziness… which is totally inbred now. These poor young folks are virtually unemployable… and most are untrainable as well.

    • wavesofgrain

      Dad…you are SO right! I am run a business, and the work ethic of the products of our schools and universities are non-existent. In the sixties, I remember parents sending their HS grads to Universities to ensure their prosperity. But after 4 years of University, they came home hating their parents and hating their country. It has become an epidemic, especially since the Universities are full of Marxist professors, and those like Bill Ayers..who was allowed to form progressive schools in Chicago, despite being involved in domestic terrorism against our country. Research the Annenberg Challenge…and who his partner was…(our admin!) The Giffords shooter attended one of their ‘schools’, Mountain View HS, which used Ayer’s organization’s curriculum.

  • Chuck S

    People have noticed that higher-priced schools tend to do worse than cheaper ones. I think that the more liberal a school, the worse job it does, and the more expensive it is. AND it tends to say it needs even more money to fix it.

    I think simple things like teaching whole word or whole leanguage instead of phonics is an expensive and ineffective way to teach. I think techniques and discipline are problems. Let’s have school choice – vouchers or tuition tax credits. Using on-line schools may also help.

    • old hillbilly

      be nice… be positive… the bright side is they can spend more… more efficiently & efficiency is always better if one can get more dollars for less, especially if gratified

  • Average Joe


    More like indoctrination!

    Please watch the entire video, thanks


    • wavesofgrain

      You are right…schools are nothing but Liberal Indoctrination Institutions. Just wait until the partership Government/Union Common Core Standards are streamed into our schools. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. And I heard that after this is implemented, they will no longer accept home schooling. Remember the German ‘schools’ in WWII? Total indoctrination centers!

    • Right Brain Thinker

      Excellent video, AJ. Unfortunately, your use of “indoctrination” indicates that you don’t seem to have totally understood what he was talking about. And wavesofgrain follows you down the same path and mindlessly parrots right wing nut nonsense—-”it’s the school’s fault”. My career in education spanned the 30 years between 1963 and 1993—the tail end of “the golden age of the middle class”—-and we WERE able to “educate” kids until the needs of the plutocracy and corporate oligarchs began to take precedence (under Reagan). It’s all part of the master plan to turn the country into a corporate feudal state.

      • wavesofgrain

        Personal attacks and name calling…typical liberal response to opinions other than theirs…

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