Some have argued that No Child Left Behind has been to blame for this increase in administrative personnel; however there is simply no evidence to support such a claim. The report also discusses how “American public schools disproportionately spend their operating budgets on non-teaching staff relative to other nations.” More importantly American public schools spend more on non-teaching staff than on teachers, which comes at the expense of students as this increase in staffing has not had any positive effect on improving students’ academic performance.
Hiring more teachers and fewer administrators may not be the answer, however. Of course if a teacher has fewer students in her class, she can spend more time with each student and fewer time on other distractions which would increase her effectiveness. This is more an issue of quantity versus quality, though. Hiring more teachers in order to decrease class size means that public schools will “fill classrooms with any warm bodies they can find,” rather than the best person for the job. Even with a smaller class size, a bad teacher will still be a bad teacher.
The answer then is to limit the growth of the bureaucracy, select teachers based on quality not simply quantity, and provide more options for parents. Indeed, the report claims that if non-teaching personnel grew only” 1.5 times more than the growth in students, “American public schools would have an additional $37.2 billion to spend per year.” The report also lists how this money could be spent, including:
- raising every public school teacher’s salary by more than $11,700 per year;
- to more than double taxpayer funding or early childhood education;
- to provide property tax relief;
- to lessen fiscal stress on state and local governments;
- to give families of each child in poverty more than $2,600 in cash per child;
- to give each child in poverty a voucher worth more than $2,600 to attend the private school of his or her parents’ choice;
- or to support a combination of the above for some other worthy purpose.
As with most government entities today, it seems that the incredible increase in administrative staff and bureaucracy in public K-12 systems is a major problem. What’s worse is that it is coming at the expense of our children, as all this spending has not let to any noticeable increase in student academic performance. Student population has certainly increased, but not nearly at the same rate as administrative staff.
Although teaching staff has also increased, particularly as a means to decrease class size, it has not done so efficiently or effectively; the bureaucracy has opted for quantity over quality. Were the bureaucracy to be streamlined, it would save billions of dollars that could be spent on the list above. This would not only provide taxpayers relief, but improve the quality of teachers and provide parents more choices. The latter two are real reforms that will actually have a positive impact on students.