Georgia among states with more non-teaching personnel than teachers. But does it matter?

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice released a report today on which states have more non-teaching personnel than teachers, and Georgia is among the them. The study was done by Ben Scafidi, a one-time education adviser to Gov. Sonny Perdue and now an economics professor at Georgia College & State University.

I am not sure what to make of the findings as the 21 states cited in the report represent a range of student achievement. So, it’s not clear to me that the ratio of non-teaching personnel to classroom teachers correlates with how well kids do in school.

For example, the list includes both Minnesota, a historically high performing state, and Mississippi, a historically low performing state.  The list includes union and non union states.

The official release has a statement that taxpayers should be outraged, but I don’t see why unless someone can show us that these staffing ratios affect student achievement. I believe most parents would want to see more teachers than non teachers on the school payroll, but, ultimately, they want to see their children succeed. Based on the standard benchmarks used to assess student success, children are doing well in some of the states on this list.

Here is the official release:

Twenty-one states employ more bus drivers, librarians, cafeteria workers, deputy superintendents, accountants, coaches, nurses, assistant principals, and other non-teaching personnel than they do classroom teachers, according to a new analysis of state education employees by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

The report, a sequel to last fall’s “The School Staffing Surge : Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools,” examines states’ hiring patterns between 1992 and 2009. It found that, in 2009, administrators and other non-teaching staff outnumbered teachers in Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Louisiana, Wyoming, Vermont, Utah, Georgia, Alaska, New Hampshire, Iowa, and the District of Columbia, which is treated as a state in the report.

“Taxpayers should be outraged public schools hired so many non-teaching personnel with such little academic improvement among students to show for it,” said Robert Enlow , president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “This money could have been better invested in areas that have proved to benefit children.”

Virginia far outpaced other states with the number of excessive personnel outside the classroom with 60,737 more non-teaching staff than teachers, followed by Ohio with 19,040 more non-teaching personnel than teachers.

The report also compared the growth rate among administrators and non-teaching staff with student enrollment changes from 1992 to 2009. It found that 48 states could be saving $24 billion annually if the hiring of non-teaching staff had not exceeded the growth of students between 1992 and 2009.

In Texas, taxpayers would have saved almost $6.4 billion annually if public schools’ non-teaching personnel had not outpaced students. Virginia, Ohio, New York, California, and Pennsylvania each would have annual, recurring savings in the billions. Other states’ savings are in the millions; however, Nevada and Arizona actually saved money, as both its administrative and non-teaching personnel did not outpace student growth. Data were not available for South Carolina.

“States could do much more constructive things with those kinds of dollars,” Enlow said. “State leaders could be permitting salary increases for great teachers, offering children in failing schools the option of attending a private school, or directing savings toward other worthy purposes. Instead states have allowed these enormous bureaucracies to grow.”

The report also shows the salary increases states could provide teachers annually if administrators and non-teaching personnel kept pace with the student population from 1992 to 2009. At the top was Virginia, which could provide teachers an annual salary increase of $29,007. Maine was second at $25,505.

The report was compiled with data from the National Center for Education Statistics and prepared by Ben Scafidi , an economist at Georgia College & State University and a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

41 comments Add your comment

OriginalProf

February 28th, 2013
5:16 pm

Here we go again. Propaganda disguised as a “report,” this time against public education.

The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is devoted to the privatization of schools through the promotion of an educational voucher system. It has worked with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to develop model legislation to be introduced into state legislatures across the country. There have been many posts on this blog exposing ALEC and also this Foundation as nationally coordinated attempts to undermine public education by diverting taxpayer funds to private schools.

10:10 am

February 28th, 2013
5:17 pm

I’m always stunned to see a voice for education reform actually hosted by this blog.

But to see it presented, as in this example, without your usual second-guessing and poisoned-pen liberal snarkiness, Maureen, is rare indeed.

Has peering into the DeKalb cesspool finally shaken your faith in the status quo?

10:10 am

February 28th, 2013
5:33 pm

@ OriginalProf:

There you go again—teachers’ union propaganda disguised as spontaneous comment … with the tired old ALEC bogey deployed to discredit any who might wonder why giving parents more choices isn’t self-evidently a fair and worthy thing to do.

Just as you and your friends over at the union hall will never willingly relax your grip on the throat of public education—parents will never cease wanting better for their children than failed liberal education policies can ever deliver.

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2013
5:49 pm

@ Original Prof, 5:16 pm

I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. It is easy to see through this veil of propaganda, with its obvious ideological intent. Thank you you for calling this report exactly for what it is – the precursor to setting the stage for vouchers to take public funds away from not-for-profit public schools and to re-route those public funds to private schools designed for profit or to public charter schools which are mangaged by private corporations for profit.

Children should not be used for profit.

Pessimistic

February 28th, 2013
5:58 pm

To suggest public schools are non-profit and therefore more “worthy” than others is awfully self serving. Status quo is working great – since lots of administrators, suppliers and policy wonks “profit” from our tax money.

10:10 am

February 28th, 2013
6:00 pm

So now we’ve woken MaryElizabeth from her retirement slumbers … to likewise bang the union’s anti-reform drum?

My dear, children should not be held hostage to status quo failure. And making their parents your enemies will leave you on a very lonely road.

Dekalbite

February 28th, 2013
6:13 pm

Well, here is another one (from DeKalb Watch):
“Click on that report above. http://www.edchoice.org/StaffSurge2

Then check out Georgia’s numbers. The study shows that while student population increased 41% since 1992, administrators and non-teaching staff increased by 72%. If the admin and non-teaching numbers had stayed in step with student enrollment, the state could have saved $925,229,674.00. That’s almost a BILLION dollars. Further, teachers could have enjoyed an average pay increase of $7,786.00 if that money had been available to them instead of non-teaching staff. And, the Ratio of Students to Non-Teaching Staff is 13.80 while the Ratio of Students to Teachers is 13.90 – a virtual tie – students today enjoy as many non-teaching staff members as teachers per student.”

Dekalbite

February 28th, 2013
6:20 pm

Vouchers are not the only way to put more teachers in the classrooms. Decrease the class sizes and then let the administration decide what non teaching jobs are needs – not wants. This is what Banes did – reduced the class sizes tremendously and let the superintendents figure out who was to go and who was to stay in the Central Office. Many were sent back to the schoolhouse because Barnes made them choose – he stood firm on low class sizes. That’s the only time in 40 years I ever saw the DCSS Central Office hint. Teachers and students loved it. Teachers could do so much more engaged learning with their students and classroom management was so much easier. Teachers had time to give them individual attention. Unfortunately, it only lasted three years and then Perdue came n and let the superintendents raise class sizes time and time again.

Dekalbite@Maureen

February 28th, 2013
6:48 pm

“The official release has a statement that taxpayers should be outraged, but I don’t see why unless someone can show us that these staffing ratios affect student achievement.”

But the more non teaching staff the less money for teachers so class sizes are increased so less teachers are needed. How do you think Lewis, Tyson and Atkinson paid for all those non teaching staff increases (DeKalb being an extreme example of this).

Student achievement IS impacted with large class – most particularly for disadvantaged and minors students.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/class-size/7-class-size-myths—-and-the.html

seminole

February 28th, 2013
6:55 pm

Some of these “non-teaching” positions are still staff members that work with students all day – I am not a “teacher” but I work with students, have a caseload, and make a teacher’s salary.

In my system, there are hundreds of therapists (physical, occupational, speech, vision), interpreters for hearing impaired kids, psychologists, etc., that are not teachers but are not “central office bloat” either.

Fred in DeKalb

February 28th, 2013
6:57 pm

DeKalbite, your memory is somewhat off. Barnes was governor of GA from 1999 – 2003. A majority of this time, James Hallford was the DeKalb superintendent and the Central office continued to grow, as it did under Freeman’s last years. He’s the one that instituted all of those area superintendents (wasn’t it 12 or 16 Area Superintendents at first?) – each with their huge staffs. Do you remember that each of these many area superintendents had a cadre of coordinators in every subject?

When Johnny Brown came in, he began addressing the overcrowded Central office and began reducing the size by sending many back to the school house. He also requested the Personnel and Salary Audit because he realized he inherited a structure that did not have any type of organization to it. We know what happened to him as he was getting close to the skeletons in DeKalb Schools closet. It was a combination of many people that led to his separation from the school system. Too bad too many people don’t remember this…

There is enough blame to go around…

Lee

February 28th, 2013
7:59 pm

You have to view any report such as this with a healthy dose of professional skepticism. You can take data and present it in multiple ways to suit your particular agenda. The Friedman group are strong advocates of school choice.

Case in point:
School system A contracts out their janitorial, lawn care, building maintenance, fleet maintenance, and payroll. School system B does all that in-house. They both spend the same total dollars, but on paper, it appears System B has a lot more non-teaching positions than System A.

See how that works? The reality is they are both equal.

That said, there is no question that the number of non-teaching positions has increased dramatically in the past forty years. Some is justified, a lot is not.

CompetenceNotDiversity

February 28th, 2013
8:14 pm

So far the con arguments can be summarized as:
1. There are high performing (Minnesota) and low-performing (Mississippi) states that sinned.
2. There are union & non-union states that sinned.
3. The report writers have an agenda (they favor school choice), and
4. There are some possible explanations for some of the increases (statistical manipulation)
None of these are acceptable (or plausible) explanations for the outrageous growth in adminsistrative bloat in the DCSS. Correlation does not equal causation (so much for straw men 1 & 2. How would you like it if I said the reason is that more blacks live in Mississippi than Minnesota? Factual? Yes. Causal? I think not.). As far as the Friedman Foundation having an axe to grind, or playing with the stats – perhaps. Let’s start by evaluating every single non-teaching posiiton on the staff. A zero-based budget for non-teaching positions. All of them must be cost-justified on merit. Only the guilty need be nervous.

btman

February 28th, 2013
9:54 pm

WELL SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE. As a teacher in GA, im not at the least bit surprised at this article. We have sooo many PWSs (Personnel Without Students) in our school district here in GA. Its a complete and utter waste of money and it needs to be stopped. Between classes, you have no idea how many people i see just walking around doing absolutely nothing. And we wonder why Georgia has no money for Education? This makes me sick! I work soo hard each and every day with direct contact with students. I m glad this finally came out. Now lets do something about it!!

dekalbite@Fred in DeKalb

February 28th, 2013
10:15 pm

“DeKalbite, your memory is somewhat off. Barnes was governor of GA from 1999 – 2003. A majority of this time, James Hallford was the DeKalb superintendent and the Central office continued to grow, as it did under Freeman’s last years.”

No. My memory is crystal clear. Halford increased the Central Office staff in the late 90s as he divided DeKalb into 16 regions with their own staff (every content area had a coordinator plus some other titles thrown in as well).

Johnny Brown came in 2000. It took Barnes a year to get his Education commission together, but he had the legislation in place for smaller class sizes by 2000 (he was implementing this in stages). Barnes recognized that small class sizes and flexibility in assignments was critical for student success.

Johnny Brown was tasked to fulfill the mandate for smaller classes that Barnes had gotten through the Legislature, and that is why he sent Central Office personnel back to the schoolhouse, ordered the 2004 Compensation and Classification Audit (the one that Lewis hid and Tyson “lost”), and began the “buy out” program for employees outside the schoolhouse (gave them 40% of their annual salary to retire if they had 30 years).

Johnny Brown was a pretty good superintendent. The power structure that Halford created did not like him – DeKalb had never had a “newcomer” – i.e. someone from outside DeKalb. Come to think of it, only Johnny Brown and Cheryl Atkinson have come from outside the system in 66 years (since Cherry was superintendent from 1947 to 1972). Brown lasted 3 years and Atkinson lasted less than two years.

Edugator

February 28th, 2013
10:58 pm

I don’t know what hidden agenda lurks behind the data, but the mob of over-paid non-teaching staff is something every teacher views with disdain. The real question is whether any Superintendent can survive an attempt to downsize the make work gravy train.

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2013
11:02 pm

.

A “must-read” if you really want to know what has been going, behind the scenes with ALEC, in the 40 year battle to privatize public schools:

http://www.alternet.org/story/155257/what_you_need_to_know_about_alec

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2013
11:03 pm

For members of Georgia’s Legislature with ties to ALEC, read the following link:

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Georgia_ALEC_Politicians

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2013
11:47 pm

Members of Georgia’s Legislature who are members of ALEC’s Education Task Force:

Sen. Fran R. Millar (R-79)
Rep. David Casas (R-103)
Rep. Jan Jones (R-46)
Rep. Howard R. Maxwell (R-17)
Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R-24)

(The information provided, above, is found within the link that I posted at 11:03 pm.)

Private Citizen

March 1st, 2013
4:31 am

Whether this article twists and manipulates the topic… By the way, there is a lot of that, where a story begins with a legitimate concern and midway in the article or story, full twist/b> to the political manipulation.
_________

Anyway, on the legitimate issue, several years ago an academic in Wisconsin came up with the idea to limit the ration of teaching / non-teaching staff, or maybe is called a ration of “money that goes to the classroom” and this was signed into law in Wisconsin, which is one reason it is not on that list. Let me try and find a link. It is a good and basic idea. Early-on, this academic saw the trend of central office sprawl and self-feeding.

I tried doing a web search for it. Impossible. I do not remember the fellow’s name. I’ve got it in a book somewhere.

Private Citizen

March 1st, 2013
4:34 am

Something like a mandated 70/30 split or something on 70% of the budget monies must go into the classroom, 30% to non-classroom. More than one state has a similar law of this kind, though it is not common.

I do not recall exactly what the budget ratio numbers are. Point is, wherever this law was enacted, it made for some real changes and then afterwards kept things in check.

Fred in DeKalb

March 1st, 2013
6:39 am

Dekalbite, Hallford actually retired in June 2002. You may recall he was still around when SPLOST 2 passed in March of 2002. Johnny Brown started in July 2002. Another minor correction, Robert Freeman also came from outside of the system in 1980.

You made a profound comment that is worth repeating, **The power structure that Hallford created did not like him**. This power structure consisted on those both inside and outside the school system. Brown was addressing the budget (the reserves were dangerously low), academics (recommended Algebra for eighth graders), and staffing (requested the Personnel and salary audit). The uniform policy was requested for implementation by Board members. He took the fall for that. He was ultimately let go because he began uncovering long term structural problems that existed in the school system organizational structure. The *DeKalb Way* that many people flaunt survived for many years because this was a wealthy, suburban and mostly white school district. When the demographics changed throughout DeKalb, the former structure could not adapt fast enough.

I believe Atkinson was discovering and addressing these flaws also. Again she wanted to make changes in a deliberate manner but also encountered that power structure. Recall she removed the former CFO as a start. This power structure overwhelmed her. The question remains if Thurmond will be allowed to make the necessary changes. Will an outsider be allowed to make changes? That’s why I like to say

There is enough blame to go around…

catlady

March 1st, 2013
8:31 am

Note that states more spread out in terms of their population might logically have more bus drivers; also, systems with large number of sped students use more small buses.

catlady

March 1st, 2013
8:33 am

Fred: Will Thurmond be able to decrease the numbers of non-teaching personnel? He’d better get busy right now, while the board is non-operative!

Private Citizen

March 1st, 2013
8:56 am

Fred, Just as an impression, Thurmond does not seem like the type to do a house-cleaning and remove a deeply rooted mafia. Thurmond already delivered an “I need this board” eulogy. He seems like he wants to put a new muffler in the taxi cab, keeping it quiet, and keep it on the road. Literally every single one of Thurmond’s public proclamations have been formula propaganda “Save the Whales” “Soon back to #1 and…” It’s like he is “football couch version lite” with his “speeches.” I think the man in friendly and humane, but vacant. And maybe even not humane, if he sends his kids to private school and then takes a big salary from a public school system. That’s like a double whammy.

Mountain Man

March 1st, 2013
8:59 am

“Will Thurmond be able to decrease the numbers of non-teaching personnel?”

Not if the current Board stays in power – too many “friends and family”.

Private Citizen

March 1st, 2013
9:01 am

catlady, but that would interrupt the authority seance on the Island of Love, a common mode in Georgia school administration.

It’s like a board game, if you put enough $100k salaries together in close proximity to each other, and then put a “Twister” spinner in the middle of it, they spin the spinner until it stops and points them which principal or teacher to go after, so they can be doing something. Welcome to Georgia schools. I could find you ten superb individuals who would agree with this description, including two who are now out of state and are principals.

Mountain Man

March 1st, 2013
9:01 am

On second thought, I remove my nomination of Mary Elizabeth for Dekalbe Board member – she is too busy being Don Quixote to the ALEC windmills.

Private Citizen

March 1st, 2013
9:05 am

Thurmond has so far in a month already been paid a teacher’s salary for a year. What has he done? Or, will he act? What will be his actions? E’er body wants to talk. alk Talk Talk. Speech Speech Speech. Talk Speech. Speech. Talk. It’s like 50 bums in a circle around a Formula One car and no one knows where the button is.

Private Citizen

March 1st, 2013
9:08 am

Those aren’t windmills, Mountain Man, those are hay balers. SInce you like power politics, I would personally like to thank you for removing the middle class from the United States of America.

Private Citizen

March 1st, 2013
9:13 am

I honestly think the best thing to do would be to tear the down the administration building and have little sub districts, with sub offices like little police stations or post offices. Each sub office could have five staff maximum and hopefully one of these is gone getting lunch for the other four.

Looking for the truth

March 1st, 2013
10:26 am

There may be more non-teachers in schools because parents want to see clean schools and they don’t have to wait for clerical staff to help them check their child out of instructio nal time. Whether it be grades, promotion, or non-teaching staff, parents get what they want. Parents have choice! They can want their child to get a good education and support those who work with their child or they can whine and say their school isn’t getting the job done. They choose which path their child is on – success or bailout.

living in an outdated ed system

March 1st, 2013
1:15 pm

Certainly, there are questions that still need to be answered with a study such as this, but what it does say is this: our education system is bloated, mis-managed, and outdated. This is what happens with monopolies. We have an infrastructure spending far too much money on activities that do not directly impact students and learning. So that’s what I make of this!

Maude

March 1st, 2013
2:48 pm

The problem is not the people who drive the children, clean up after the children, work directly with the children it is the people who “work” in the central office. We have so many “experts” telling the teachers what to do. We are told one thing by the Language Arts “experts” another thing by the math “experts” another thing by the science “experts” and the list goes on and on. They never check with each other to see what the other is telling teachers. These are the people who have been increased in droves over the past few years. Other support personel have been cut. These people do nothing directly for the children!!

Looking for the truth

March 1st, 2013
3:51 pm

Maude, you are 100% correct! The superintendents surround themselves with “yes” people so they never hear what’s wrong. Unfortunately, these “yes” people are in the pockets of organizations that are determined to make a buck by always having the latest and greatest method for improving student engagement (buzzword for: entertainment) and achievement. Teachers should be allowed to do what we hired them to do! Period!

Might

March 1st, 2013
5:08 pm

There are more districts in the Atlanta area than Dekalb and APS. There just are not that many non-teachers in medium to smaller districts. Districts are not flush with cash. This article gives the perception that hiring is done without regard for the needs of the district. NEWS FLASH….. Many of the added expense over the past 20 years is from special education. I am not making a judgment but let’s get real. School systems educate many severe students that were never served in the past. One severely disabled student can need a ful time teacher to himself or a full time para- professional. It is what is but let’s talk about facts instead of the often ill-informed public school haters who dominate this blog.

David Warlick

March 1st, 2013
9:17 pm

The article mentions the lack of correlation between good schools and large administrative staffs. But there could be a correlation. Virginia has the number one high school in the nation (Thomas Jefferson HS for Science & Technology). In addition, according to this article, “Virginia far outpaced other states with the number of excessive personnel outside the classroom with 60,737.” So perhaps the excessive administrators in Virginia have been excessively successful in pushing useful STEM courses down to their classrooms. Three of my kids attended TJ. The Virginia administrators did very well to imagine such a great STEM school.

Akd16590

March 2nd, 2013
8:15 am

I am perplexed about the fact that librarians are considered nonteaching staff. As an elementary school library media specialist, I spend at least 85% of my working life teaching classes! I am not complaining about that because I love that part of my job, but I am surprised that a group that attempts to state that it is interested in education could display such ignorance about the role of librarians in this day and age!

20/20

March 2nd, 2013
9:27 am

Atlanta Public Schools is one of the worst violators. Erroll Davis admitted to Richard Belcher from Channel 2 that he was clueless of budget expenditunes regarding stafling at the central office. Definitely the salary expenditure of over $100 k for Lillian Harris to sit on the six floor doing nothing is evidence of waste of tax dollars for over many years since she entered the district as a paid bed buddy of Aaron Fernander. Check the state salary records for her years of employment. No one gets $5000-$10,000 raises from tax payors every year. No one gets that kind of salary increase as a Public servant.

abacus2

March 3rd, 2013
11:43 am

I want to teach not fill out more paperwork to justify paying for the latest “cure du jour” for education. My county has a top-heavy central office. Haven’t seen anything useful come out of there in years. All they do is soak up the money we should be investing in the children. Most teachers really do know how to teach – we need to boot the ones who can’t or won’t.

KIM

March 3rd, 2013
11:54 am

Regretfully this article is another that contains stats that have run amuck. Because a person is in a non-teaching classified job does not mean that person does not greatly impact the learning that goes on in the school: counselors (breaking down social/emotional barriers to learning), media speclists (guiding the research process for students and teachers, working on media-based instruction with the teachers thus reaching additional students with the variety that instructional technology/strategy provides), assistant principals (in addition to working with teachers and counselors to break down the social/emotional barriers, they lead data-driven instruction identifying strategies that meet the needs of this century’s students, they provide staff development along with teacher leaders that provide teachers the opp. to learn and implement the best teaching strategies and they work with parents on how to parent and supervise additional learning/study time so kids can learn at home), and the principal (the chief instructional leader in a school). Additionally, you may not consider a bus driver or cafeteria worker an educator, but if you don’t you are dead off the mark. They provide enormous support to students who have needs every second of the day. The drivers set the tone as they develop relationships on the way to and from school, ensuring the calm a child needs in a somethimes chaotic home world. The food service workers also develop relationships and lovingly ensure a child is nurished…oftentimes spritually, emotionally as well as academically. This is an article that is shallow at its best.