Is More Better?

July 30, 2013


When it comes to our children, we want what is best. That also applies to educating our children. We want our children to have the best instruction possible to prepare them to be good citizens and to be successful adults. How to achieve those goals is where we often disagree. There has been an assumption that spending more money in the public education system will positively impact student achievement. But is more always better?

Where has the extra spending in recent years been allocated?

“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.”

In North Carolina, the rate of students grew 36% while the rate of non-teaching staff and administrators grew 61%. So has more non-teaching staff increased academic achievement?

“In addition, scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Long-Term Trend exam for 17-year-old students in public schools have not increased during the time period studied. Between 1992 and 2008, public schools’ NAEP reading scores fell slightly while scores in mathematics were stagnant. After the sizeable increase in the teaching force and the dramatic upsurge in the hiring of non-teaching personnel, student achievement in American public schools has been roughly flat or modestly in decline.”

So what is the significance of spending so much in non-teaching staff? For North Carolina, it means that each teacher could be paid $5,649 more if non-teaching staff matched student enrollment growth.

So, non-teaching staff has consumed a good chunk of school spending, growing at a much faster rate than student enrollment, yet there is no significant increase in student achievement. As a former public school teacher, I know that these extra administrators often create more regulations for teachers, creating more meetings, and resulting in too much non-teaching time spent on these burdensome regulations. As we’re evaluating spending in education, we need to consider the “more is better” ideology. Maybe “less is more” in the case of non-teaching staff. Instead of marching in Raleigh to protest spending cuts which were in fact spending increases, I would suggest taking this information to your local school boards.  For those who feel that classroom teachers are underpaid, this is a solution which at least deserves serious consideration.

h/t to Sam McNeil


Written By: Brenda Brown

Bio: Brenda is an educator with teaching experience in both public and private school settings. She currently homeschools her children. She became involved in grassroots conservative activism to advocate for values such as parental rights.


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