Carpe Diem

Chart of the day: Administrative bloat in US public schools

Originally posted in January, now re-posted…..

From Benjamin Scafidi at The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice:

America’s public schools are bloated with bureaucracy and skinny on results.  Nationwide since 1950, the number of public school administrative and non-teaching positions has soared 702 percent while the student population increased just 96 percent. Over that same period, teachers’ numbers also increased — 252 percent — but still far short of administrators and non-teaching personnel (see chart above).

Notably, that hiring trend has been just as prominent over the past two decades. From 1992 to 2009, students’ numbers increased 17 percent whereas administrators and other non-teaching staff rose 46 percent. And during that time, some states actually lost students yet kept hiring more non-teachers.

Of course, those hiring patterns might be warranted if students’ academic gains kept pace. Academic outcomes, however, have not experienced similar growth. Public high school graduation rates peaked around 1970, and government data show reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) fell slightly between 1992 and 2008. Math scores on the NAEP Long-Term Trend were stagnant during the same period.

Such irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars is indefensible. As state leaders continue to find ways to keep their fiscal houses in order, they shouldn’t fret that today’s economy is causing some to trim fat in public schools. It will serveteachers, students, and taxpayers well.

For example, had non-teaching personnel increased at the same rate as students nationwide, American public schools would have an additional $24.3 billion annually— funds that could be used to give quality teachers raises, scholarships to students in need, relief to taxpayers, or some other worthy purpose. For some states, savings would be in the millions; for others, they’re in the billions.

MP: The administrative bloat in US public schools looks just like the trend in public universities of much, much higher growth in full-time college administrators than the increases in full-time professors or students. This illustrates a good reason to distrust government and publicly funded organizations. To paraphrase Milton Friedman, government organizations like public schools replace progress and greater efficiency with stagnation and higher costs, and generally substitute uniform mediocrity for the variety essential for that experimentation which can bring tomorrow’s laggards above today’s mean and lead to greater organizational efficiency.

Consider the following cases of bloated, costly public school administration from my 1995 article ”The Educational Octopus,” which provide some anecdotal evidence to support the administrative bloat illustrated in the chart above.

1. The Chicago Board of Education, which has 3,300 employees, is larger than the entire Japanese Ministry of Education.

2. The New York City public schools system has 250 times as many administrators as the New York Catholic school system (6,000 administrators in the public school system versus 24 in the Catholic school system), even though New York public schools have only four times as many students as the Catholic schools.  In general, Catholic schools operate much more like private enterprises than unionized, public school monopolies, so it’s no surprise that Catholic schools don’t suffer from ”administrative bloat” to the extent public schools do.

62 thoughts on “Chart of the day: Administrative bloat in US public schools

  1. Totally agree with the thrust of this post.

    Wonder how the Department of Defense would look, Injuns to Chiefs, in last 50 years…..

  2. I too agree with the general thrust of this post. Most teachers basically teach what they are told to teach and test what they are told to test.

    There are some bad apples but in the main the curriculum is not decided by teachers and when you compare this country’s approach to education with the 15-20 other countries that beat us in language, science and math – you see some of the differences.

    • “if you left it up to each individual teacher to decide what to teach – what would happen?

      so where does that guidance come from?”

      glad you asked.

      the answer is “your school system thrives”.

      this is exactly what finland did. they largely dumped the national curriculum in favor of some very broad guidelines and let each school decide what and how to teach to a great extent. they empowered the principals and teachers to make those choices and with no extra money went from being some of the worst schools in the eu to near the best.

      also note: the private schools in the us that so dramatically outperform their public peers all develop their own curriculum’s. at my high school, the english teachers chose which books to teach, not some bureaucrat.

      the rest of your argument just seems odd to me. if teachers cannot deal with basic issues, then they are not qualified to be teachers.

      no one is saying that there is no need for ANY administrators. but you seem to be trying to erect a straw man here and claim that. sure, schools need deans etc. mine had them. but there were not many.

      they handled that stuff. you are trying to take the statement that there are too many administrators and equate that as saying their ought to be none.

      it’s reasonable for a public pool to have a lifeguard. if it’s a big pool, maybe 2 or even 3 or 4. but if there are 30, well, that just gets stupid, yes? that’s where we are with schools. admins outnumber teachers in many cases.

      somehow, we managed these issues in the 50′s. somehow, other nations manage them with far fewer admins.

      there is just no way we need 7 times as many admins as we did 60 years ago with only twice as many kids.

      • When are you going to post the data that backs your claim of a 12 bagger for Manchester? We have been waiting for a week, and still no info. What’s the problem…why the secret?

        Surely, if your track record was anywhere near what you boast, then you would share the proof or supporting data? Anything…something. Hot air and fumes don’t count.

        You seem to post an awful lot and spend a lot of time right here–doing nothing. Is producing 12-baggers for you so easy? Wouldn’t your time be better spent producing 24-baggers, producing results and bringing in ton of new clients and fees? Does your phone ever ring?

        The only hedge fund and track record that you are involved in is growing in 3-feet of manure in your back yard. Are you sure your fund’s name is Manchester? Or is it Manure?

          • jon-

            it’s just idiocy.

            he is making up a claim that i never made about a 12 bagger and then demanding that i post my audited results on the web which would be illegal.

            he seems to be on every thread as some odd insecurity in his rattling head is threatened by the fact that i said that i and many other money managers i know can consistently beat the market in response to his claims that money managers could not beat the market.

            somehow he has twisted this into a nonsensical claim that i claimed to be up 12X (which he refuses to substantiate) and demands that i break the law and have my fund shut down by the sec to appease him.

            the irony is that our audited results are available on hedgefund.net but, for reasons about which i can only speculate, he refuses to get a login and go look at them.

            been going on all day.

            i think he may need new psych meds or somehting.

  3. No defenders of administrative bloat as yet. How about defenders of continuing to send more and more money to government schools? Anyone? Anyone?

    • well, no defenders of administrative bloat but perhaps defining it as you do need administrators and the question is how many….

      to give an example.

      if you left it up to each individual teacher to decide what to teach – what would happen?

      so where does that guidance come from?

      got a kid who has health problems – who decides what the teacher should do and what happens next?

      got a kid who is being abused and tells the teacher?

      what next?

      there are thousands of issues that teachers encounter that they cannot deal with themselves – that get kicked “upstairs”.

      I’m not defending “bloat” here but I am pointing out that in the eyes of the ignorant – there might be more “bloat” than there really is.

      • “I’m not defending “bloat” here but I am pointing out that in the eyes of the ignorant – there might be more “bloat” than there really is.”

        The first three posts were just a little too agreeable. I knew I could count on someone to come through with a defense for the bloat.

    • seriously.

      this sure makes the “we need more money to pay teachers more” claim look like the trope it is.

      um, you had a real shot to do that. look what you did instead.

      if teacher salary is so important to you, make better choices.

      the us spends about $12k a kid on public education.

      that’s $240k per class of 20.

      that is an extraordinary amount of money to pay a teacher and provide a classroom (which are mostly free) and class materials.

      if you cannot teach well for that and attract real talent, the problem is not money.

      there is an easy way to make the public schools cut bloat and become more efficient like the private ones:

      vouchers.

      make them compete for kids and watch them get better.

      let the good ones thrive and expand. let the bad ones fail and get taken over by new management.

      we spend a huge amount of money on schools. we’re just not getting good return on it.

      i am also curious:

      what do these administrators do all day? i mean, just what are their jobs?

      • Morganovich,

        “this sure makes the “we need more money to pay teachers more” claim look like the trope it is.”

        I always find it amusing how the same people who push that line are the same ones who claim it’s not the fault of teachers when the kids don’t learn. Oh really? Then let’s help the taxpayers and pay the teachers minimum wage if they aren’t capable of making a difference.

      • There is an easy way to make the public schools cut bloat and become more efficient like the private ones:

        vouchers.

        make them compete for kids and watch them get better.

        +1

        • I would totally agree with vouchers as long as every provider has to compete on the same level playing field when it comes to acceptance of students, conformance with the same policies that public schools have to follow and testing standards.

          that’s the only way that public tax money should be used for schools.

          when we talk about “entitlements’ the biggest by far, bar none is the cost of educating a child – 10K+ a year.

          • Yes, as long as every aspect of education is government controlled you will be happy with it.

            Your use of the term “level playing field” indicates your disapproval of free markets and competition.

          • “Yes, as long as every aspect of education is government controlled you will be happy with it.

            Your use of the term “level playing field” indicates your disapproval of free markets and competition.”

            if you are talking about private money spent on a private purpose, I could give a fig.

            but if you are talking about tax dollars, then we need metrics for performance/cost effectiveness. I’m sure you agree with that.

            When we compare countries results via PISA – the testing has specific criteria for performance and achievement benchmarks.

            beyond that – every single country that participates in PISA is comparing public school performance not private school (and privately funded) performance.

          • but if you are talking about tax dollars, then we need metrics for performance/cost effectiveness. I’m sure you agree with that.

            Who is “we”? Shouldn’t parents decide where their children go to school? Allowing competition for taxpayer dollars between schools, based on parent and student preferences would make all the difference in the world in quality of education. Incentives matter. If parents and students were the actual customers of public education instead of the state, schools would respond accordingly.

          • re: ” Who is “we”? Shouldn’t parents decide where their children go to school? Allowing competition for taxpayer dollars between schools, based on parent and student preferences would make all the difference in the world in quality of education. Incentives matter.”

            “we” are the folks who pay the taxes and expect the schools to produce an employable worker.

            what the parents want with their own money is certainly their business but if they accept tax dollars, then there is a purpose to be achieved.

            I’m all for competition but if tax dollars are used – the competition as to be specific to a defined standard.

            It’s like if you build an interstate highway- you don’t get to choose the standards… you conform to the standards provided so that tax dollars go for a defined standard.

            re: ” If parents and students were the actual customers of public education instead of the state, schools would respond accordingly.”

            they already are but their goals are to get their kid through school with good grades and to evade and avoid the tougher academic subjects so that their kid can end up with a “good” resume for college.

            Many parents simply do not want their kid to get a globally-competitive education because its too hard and it risks the kid getting bad grades in the tougher academic subjects.

            this is no such flabbiness in our competitors schools. They set national standards for academic competence and it show through clearly when comparing tests.

            many of our parents simply do not want their kids to take tough core academic subjects. that’s the truth.

          • but if you are talking about tax dollars, then we need metrics for performance/cost effectiveness. I’m sure you agree with that.

            And I’m sure you’ll agree that over the years costs have gone up dramatically with no corresponding improvements in performance by any measurement you want to apply. That’s because the incentives are wrong.

            In almost any private enterprise you can name, where competition and innovation are allowed, you get more for your money over time. In almost any government enterprise, especially in education, the opposite is true.

            A private business dies when it fails to deliver, but not government businesses – instead they get more money thrown at them. Socialism doesn’t work, Larry, take your head out of your ass and look at all the evidence of failure around you.

          • ” And I’m sure you’ll agree that over the years costs have gone up dramatically with no corresponding improvements in performance by any measurement you want to apply. That’s because the incentives are wrong.”

            I think first you need to understand where the costs have gone up and then you need to understand that incentives are not the real issue at least not in the way you might think as most countries that clean our clocks pay LESS per student than we do and do BETTER.

            do you know why?

            “In almost any private enterprise you can name, where competition and innovation are allowed, you get more for your money over time. In almost any government enterprise, especially in education, the opposite is true.”

            when you compare this country to other countries – none of it is private. It’s all public school.

            “A private business dies when it fails to deliver, but not government businesses – instead they get more money thrown at them. Socialism doesn’t work, Larry, take your head out of your ass and look at all the evidence of failure around you.”

            private business sell all manner of crappy products that people buy without really knowing or understanding quality or cost-effectiveness.

            If people were smart – there would be no cars that rank in the lower 10% in Consumers Reports that sell but we know that people are not necessarily informed about quality.

            They buy products all the time that are scams… people getting out of the armed forces with education benefits sign up – all the time with what are basically fly-by-night education institutions – to the point where the govt is having to educate soldiers about these scams.

            parents want easier subjects not hard subjects and they want amenities like sports and non-core academic courses like photo journalism and acrobatic swimming for their kids.. rather than Calculus and Physics.

          • “we” are the folks who pay the taxes and expect the schools to produce an employable worker.

            OMG! We are all subjects now? By the way, it’s not working. The difference between what schools profess to provide and their actual product is ever widening.

            what the parents want with their own money is certainly their business but if they accept tax dollars, then there is a purpose to be achieved.

            Parents have no choice, Larry, that’s the problem. What parents want is for their children to get a good education. The money spent IS their own money. Why shouldn’t they decide where it’s spent? do you and other fascist elites know what’s best?

            I’m all for competition but if tax dollars are used – the competition as to be specific to a defined standard.

            That’s absolutely not true, Larry, or you would favor school choice and vouchers, so parents could decide where to send their kids.

          • they already are but their goals are to get their kid through school with good grades and to evade and avoid the tougher academic subjects so that their kid can end up with a “good” resume for college.

            And you know better, and should be able to tell people what their children SHOULD learn, and you will also make them pay for it. Sieg Heil, Larry.

            Many parents simply do not want their kid to get a globally-competitive education because its too hard and it risks the kid getting bad grades in the tougher academic subjects.

            You have no idea, but even if that were true, isn’t it up to them? Why is it up to you to decide what kids should learn and how hard they should work?

            this is no such flabbiness in our competitors schools. They set national standards for academic competence and it show through clearly when comparing tests.

            Big deal. Another scare story to get people to give up their money. Do you think the solution is more money poured down the rat hole? Something that hasn’t worked in the past?

            many of our parents simply do not want their kids to take tough core academic subjects. that’s the truth.

            You have no idea what parents want. You haven’t asked them. You just favor taking their money and deciding for them what their children should be forced to do.

            Sieg Heil, Larry.

          • “they already are but their goals are to get their kid through school with good grades and to evade and avoid the tougher academic subjects so that their kid can end up with a “good” resume for college.”

            And you know better, and should be able to tell people what their children SHOULD learn, and you will also make them pay for it. Sieg Heil, Larry.”

            people are free to educate their own kids the way they want to but their child may well grow up in a world they cannot compete for a job in and the rest of us will pay for his entitlements.

            “Many parents simply do not want their kid to get a globally-competitive education because its too hard and it risks the kid getting bad grades in the tougher academic subjects.”

            “You have no idea, but even if that were true, isn’t it up to them? Why is it up to you to decide what kids should learn and how hard they should work?”

            the purpose of a taxpayer-funded education is to provide a taxpayer when they grow up. that’s the only justification for collecting taxes for education. Any parent who wants to take a different path can do it but just like people who don’t have kids – everyone pays for their share of education.

            ““this is no such flabbiness in our competitors schools. They set national standards for academic competence and it show through clearly when comparing tests.”

            Big deal. Another scare story to get people to give up their money. Do you think the solution is more money poured down the rat hole? Something that hasn’t worked in the past?”

            it’s not scare story, it’s the simple reality that you cannot deal with.

            I do NOT think more money is the solution but I DO THINK we need to emulate the people who beat us and they use standard curriculums and testing.

            “many of our parents simply do not want their kids to take tough core academic subjects. that’s the truth.”

            You have no idea what parents want. You haven’t asked them. You just favor taking their money and deciding for them what their children should be forced to do.”

            I do know.. I watch them at every school board meeting.

            I hear them at budget time advocating for more soccer fields, after-school “activity” buses, and photo journalism classes and the like.

            The way that our European and Asian competitors beat us is they limit public education to core academic subjects and they are rigorous about achievement for both college bound and non-college bound students and it shows up in international comparisons where we rank 15th and worse even though we spend more money.

            Sieg Heil, Larry.

            seek hile yourself goofball Every one of those countries has a strict national curricula and testing.. all are top-down central directed.. and the results are – their kids are getting global jobs and our kids are not.

          • people are free to educate their own kids the way they want to but their child may well grow up in a world they cannot compete for a job in and the rest of us will pay for his entitlements.

            Nonsense. People aren’t free to educate their kids as they please. school attendance is compulsory, including standards for home schooling. taxes are paid under threat of violence.

            And, that entitlements argument is more nonsense. At some point you socialists will run out of other people’s money.

            the purpose of a taxpayer-funded education is to provide a taxpayer when they grow up. that’s the only justification for collecting taxes for education.

            The system is it’s own reason for existence. Talk about circular reasoning! And talk about scary tyrannical attitudes! Sieg Heil, Larry.

            It’s not working, Larry. There aren’t enough taxpayers being produced.

            Any parent who wants to take a different path can do it but just like people who don’t have kids – everyone pays for their share of education.

            That’s one of the more rdiculous things you’ve said lately, and that’s saying a lot!

          • “Nonsense. People aren’t free to educate their kids as they please. school attendance is compulsory, including standards for home schooling. taxes are paid under threat of violence.”

            schooling is compulsory but private schooling including home schooling is quite legal.

            re: taxes… yeah yeah yeah.,..more anti-govt, anti-tax blather … broken record from you on virtually every subject.

            Every country in the world has taxes nimrod…

            “And, that entitlements argument is more nonsense. At some point you socialists will run out of other people’s money.”

            yeah… you say that… but it ain’t happened… but the bigger point is entitlements or not such people who cannot get employment become a burden on society in a number of ways beyond entitlements.

            “the purpose of a taxpayer-funded education is to provide a taxpayer when they grow up. that’s the only justification for collecting taxes for education.”

            The system is it’s own reason for existence. Talk about circular reasoning! And talk about scary tyrannical attitudes! Sieg Heil, Larry.

            sure…. that’s why there is public schooling in how many countries in the world “seek hile”?

            “It’s not working, Larry. There aren’t enough taxpayers being produced.”

            in the world? what the…..

            “ Any parent who wants to take a different path can do it but just like people who don’t have kids – everyone pays for their share of education.”

            That’s one of the more rdiculous things you’ve said lately, and that’s saying a lot!

            really?

            1. – parents can school their kids in a number of different ways than sending them to public school – TRUE!

            2. – The lions share of education funding in this country comes from taxpayers at the state and local level.
            TRUE!

            nothing ridiculous about the truth except for chronic deniers !

          • yeah… you say that… but it ain’t happened… but the bigger point is entitlements or not such people who cannot get employment become a burden on society in a number of ways beyond entitlements.

            Maybe you’ll explain how unemployed people who have no claim on anyone else’s money is a burden. If someone chooses to help them, then they aren’t a burden. Only when someone chooses to use my money to help others is it a burden.

            Don’t try to make this about me not wanting to help, because that isn’t the case. I just don’t want your hand in my pocket.

          • I think first you need to understand where the costs have gone up and then you need to understand that incentives are not the real issue at least not in the way you might think as most countries that clean our clocks pay LESS per student than we do and do BETTER.

            do you know why?

            Why Larry? I can’t wait to hear this, but at least you admit that more money isn’t the answer.

            when you compare this country to other countries – none of it is private. It’s all public school.

            Zing! You failed to address my comment.

            private business sell all manner of crappy products that people buy without really knowing or understanding quality or cost-effectiveness.

            And public education in this country is selling a crappy product and people know it but only the wealthy have reasonable alternatives. As for people not understanding quality, you are projecting again.

            If people were smart – there would be no cars that rank in the lower 10% in Consumers Reports that sell but we know that people are not necessarily informed about quality.

            This may not be possible for you to understand, considering what an innumerate you are, but there will always be cars that rank in the lower 10% in Consumer Reports. and you think yopu’re qualified to speak of education? Wow.

            They buy products all the time that are scams… </i."

            Yes, like public education, but they are forced to do it, Larry. there are no cheap alternatives.

            "people getting out of the armed forces with education benefits sign up – all the time with what are basically fly-by-night education institutions – to the point where the govt is having to educate soldiers about these scams.

            And there’s another scam right there – educating people that should already know how to tie their own shoes, using my money.

            parents want easier subjects not hard subjects and they want amenities like sports and non-core academic courses like photo journalism and acrobatic swimming for their kids.. rather than Calculus and Physics.

            Oh poor Larry, you have no idea what parents want. For some idea of how important people in very poor countries consider the education of their children, a href=”http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Tree-Personal-Educating-Themselves/dp/1933995920″>read this.

            You keep beclowning yourself with stupid comments.

          • schooling is compulsory but private schooling including home schooling is quite legal.

            You are ignoring the cost difference. Only the wealthy can afford those choices.

            You haven’t yet explained how you can justify taking peoples property to fund education.

          • I do NOT think more money is the solution but I DO THINK we need to emulate the people who beat us and they use standard curriculums and testing.

            You have missed out on why education is important or desirable in the first place. Your obsession with training students to compete internationally on tests is bogus. “Cleaning the clocks” of foreign students won’t produce the taxpayers your fascist little mind believes is the legitimate use of people’s children by the state.

          • ” Don’t try to make this about me not wanting to help, because that isn’t the case. I just don’t want your hand in my pocket.”

            but it is.you’re opposed to taxes and government for anything for any purpose. this IS about YOU! It comes out eventually on virtually every issue discussed. It defaults to this.

            re: ” Only the wealthy can afford those choices.”

            but isn’t that your attitude when it comes to taxes that would provide for education? which is it?

            re: the teacher would no.

            absolutely not unless he/she stops teaching the rest of the class to find out and then prioritizes helping this kid over the rest of the class. That’s the problem.. It takes time and effort away from the rest of the class to deal with the kid who has gaps and if the teacher is held accountable for the class as a whole – and they are – then they do what the job calls for first -unless there are procedures in place to evaluate the kid and get him help – which takes more resources.

            re: international testing.

            no – it’s competition for global jobs and that takes a globally-competitive education.

            you oppose the very things that only govt can accomplish. you admit this when you say “only the wealthy have choices”.

            Indeed – where the hell do you think the IDEA for public education came from initially?

            so I have a question for you. Do you support the CONCEPT of taxpayer-funded public education – the de facto standard for the world? The only countries in the world that do not have public education are 3rd world.

            so what do you support? taxpayer-funded public education or not?

          • 1. “but it is.you’re opposed to taxes and government for anything for any purpose. this IS about YOU! It comes out eventually on virtually every issue discussed. It defaults to this.

            2. “re: ” Only the wealthy can afford those choices.”

            3. “Absolutely not unless he/she stops teaching the rest of the class to find out and then prioritizes helping this kid over the rest of the class.

            4. “no – it’s competition for global jobs and that takes a globally-competitive education.

            5. “you oppose the very things that only govt can accomplish. you admit this when you say “only the wealthy have choices”.

            Based on these responses, you have failed to understand each of my comments to which you responded. You might try reading them again, but unless you can somehow learn to comprehend what what you’re reading, there’s no point in it.

            so I have a question for you. Do you support the CONCEPT of taxpayer-funded public education

            No, Larry I support the concept of “user pays”. That doesn’t preclude cooperative efforts and voluntary groups, but it does preclude forcing everyone to pay for public education indoctrination.

            so what do you support? taxpayer-funded public education or not?

            No I don’t. But since it exists I favor school choice and attaching the tax dollars to the child rather than to their address, so that parents rather than the state can make their own choices for their own children. I don’t expect a dangerous little fascist like you to understand that.

            It is your view that brought us the shameful “Indian Schools” and the forced removal of children from their parents in the late 19th and early 20th century in the US in order to force them to culturally assimilate. For their own good, of course!

            It is your view that allowed “Hitler’s youth” to exist.

            Your disgusting notion that the state owns the children in a society and is responsible for their “education” is really sick.

          • parents are free to educate their kids any way that they wish but if they choose public schools then there are standards.

            most folks pay for public education – and as such there are legitimate expectations for what is provided and the primary one is to end up with an education that will allow one to compete successfully for a global job.

            that’s a reasonable requirement.

            if you as a parent don’t want that for your kid you are free to pursue other paths – and many do.

            there is nothing fascist about that at all… it’s pretty darn free in fact.

            but for someone who is opposed to taxes to start with – undermining and destroying public education is part of the opposition…eh?

            so you lose. we know what you really want and it’s a no go – and you’d lose no matter which country in the world you chose – unless you chose a 3rd world country.

            so live with it guy.

          • parents are free to educate their kids any way that they wish but if they choose public schools then there are standards.

            Look – you just don’t get it. Parents are NOT free to choose their children’s form of education. Everyone who owns or rents a place to live pays property taxes directly or indirectly which partly funds public education. They don’t have a choice.

            Only the wealthy or those willing to sacrifice can decide to spend large amounts of additional money to educate their child in private or home schools, which are still required to meet state standards and requirements for education similar to those for public schools.

            School attendance for children is mandatory.

            So no, parents aren’t free to educate their children any way they wish, they have one “free” but inadequate choice, and 2 other good but expensive choices.

            If they choose the “free” option, they will, with few exceptions, be assigned to a school in their neighborhood chosen for them by the state.

            That’s not what any sane person considers real “choice”.

            I would AT LEAST allow parents to spend the tax money used for their children’s education wherever they chose to send them to school. Their choice of any public school, private schools, or home school.

            That would make parents and students the actual customers, rather than the state, and force schools to compete for those students and education dollars. That alone would produce more improvements in education than any other measure you and your bureaucratic “experts” can imagine.

            The state does NOT own our children but we are forced to give them up to the state for an “education” of the state’s choosing, and we are forced to pay for it.

            What kind of twisted reasoning allows you to approve of that and call it “choice”?

            Oh that’s right, I forgot for a second. You’re Larry, after all.

          • “parents are free to educate their kids any way that they wish but if they choose public schools then there are standards.”

            Look – you just don’t get it. Parents are NOT free to choose their children’s form of education. Everyone who owns or rents a place to live pays property taxes directly or indirectly which partly funds public education. They don’t have a choice.”

            sure they do. You say they pay property taxes. indeed. so do people who don’t have kids. We all do no matter whether we have kids or not.

            so the point is that you do have a choice but you still have a responsibility to fund the public school system as everyone has to.

            If only parents had to fund the school system, their taxes would double.

            “Only the wealthy or those willing to sacrifice can decide to spend large amounts of additional money to educate their child in private or home schools, which are still required to meet state standards and requirements for education similar to those for public schools.”

            not true. plenty of people home-school now. Or they have a combination of private + home schooling.

            “School attendance for children is mandatory.”

            education is mandatory. you do not have to attend a public school.

            “So no, parents aren’t free to educate their children any way they wish, they have one “free” but inadequate choice, and 2 other good but expensive choices.”

            they sure are. that tax money is no more theirs that those who pay taxes for schools and don’t have kids.
            and that includes businesses also.

            everyone pays to fund the public schools so everyone who pays is entitled to a good use of those funds.

            I’m in FAVOR of them being spent for any school that parents choose AS LONG AS THEY MEET THE SAME STANDARDS and those standards SHOULD be tied to what it takes for a graduate to compete for global jobs.

            that’s the entire justification for using public money – to educate a workforce – not provide a private education.

            “If they choose the “free” option, they will, with few exceptions, be assigned to a school in their neighborhood chosen for them by the state.”

            Yup. same deal in many European and Japanese schools but their school are all top notch and public.

            “That’s not what any sane person considers real “choice”.”

            taxpayer funded things come with strings attached.

            you cannot get Federal funding for a road unless you build it to their standards.

            You cannot get Federal funding for education unless you do it according to their standards.

            in order to use tax dollars – you have to meet the standards.

            “I would AT LEAST allow parents to spend the tax money used for their children’s education wherever they chose to send them to school. Their choice of any public school, private schools, or home school.”

            I would too as long as the standards are met.

            “That would make parents and students the actual customers, rather than the state, and force schools to compete for those students and education dollars. That alone would produce more improvements in education than any other measure you and your bureaucratic “experts” can imagine.”

            I don’t think so guy. Europe and japan have public schools and standards and the do better than us.

            We already know that kids with loans and returning serviceman get scammed all the time because they’re simply not well informed as to what a good education is nor what it ought to cost.

            If you give money directly to parents, much of it will be squandered unless the schools are certified and meet standards.

            “The state does NOT own our children but we are forced to give them up to the state for an “education” of the state’s choosing, and we are forced to pay for it.”

            you think the state does not “own” your kids but try abusing them and see who gets custody.

            the state requires you to get your kids educated. You have a number of ways to do this including public schools which are paid for by all taxpayers, not just you. That means their money has vote too.

            “What kind of twisted reasoning allows you to approve of that and call it “choice”?”

            when taxpayer dollars are used for some purpose, there are usually strings attached to insure the money is spent according to the purpose for which it was collected as tax.

            “Oh that’s right, I forgot for a second. You’re Larry, after all.”

            back to your old infantile tactics, eh?

            you boys cannot seem to have a discussion with those you disagree with – without being insulting.. and engaging in name calling. It’s real adult.

          • Larry, I can only say that it’s a good thing you’re not nearly smart enough to be in a position to actually do any harm, because you’re a truly dangerous little fascist fuck.

          • re: ” you’re a truly dangerous little fascist fuck.”

            you know the funny thing?

            I’m explaining to you how the system currently works – not some advocacy of mine.

            but you keep attributing it to me as if it was my idea.

            I have to understand the rationale and agree with it but you apparently cannot countenance it so you name call like a 5 year old. That seems to be a common thread with you folks.

      • i am also curious:

        what do these administrators do all day? i mean, just what are their jobs?

        Well, they don’t do anything, of course. They are the counterparts of the bureaucrats in the Dept. of Education in DC who don’t do anything either. It is a self sustaining closed bureaucratic system that runs on ever increasing amounts of taxpayer funding at both ends, and produces no useful output,

  4. I wonder if UNIONS had anything to do with those severely mismatched growth rates?

    Those union teachers sure loined America good.

    Yaaaa think?

    • re: administrators and unions…

      I’m wondering if there might be a real difference in administrator numbers between union and right-to-work states.

      that would be an interesting chart, eh?

      My guess is that as more and more regulations get put on schools – they need “implementers”.

      for instance, it used to be if a child was getting abused, that often there were no school policies.. it was handled ad hoc per the teacher, principle, superintendent, etc but now there are laws with specific things that have to be done and policies have to be written to carry out the specifics of the laws and that’s going to happen no matter whether there are unions or not.

      but if there were a chart that showed that union states had more administrators than right-to-work states, it would be provocative for sure.

    • I wonder if UNIONS had anything to do with those severely mismatched growth rates?

      Probably not a lot. Most administrators do not belong to unions. Unions may have had some influence as they secured benefits for teachers like health care and retirement (need to hire someone to manage all that), but I am doubtful that along would have caused a 700% rise.

      • Unions do have an effect. It’s called the Bootleggers and Baptists effect. Basically, two parties who are seemingly in opposition end up in an alliance that benefits both of their causes. Teachers unions fund the elections of school boards who have the power to decide the budget. The board and the administrators align to “reign in cost” (i.e., teacher salaries) all the while they are expanding their power over the school system. The unions keep electing them because they want advocates who have the power to protect them. Roll that cycle for 50 years, and look at what we have.

      • Actually there are unions for non-teaching school staff.

        For example, SEIU Local 99 represents nearly 45,000 California employees in early education, child care, K-12, and community college levels. SEIU Local 99 members are: Teacher’s Assistants, Playground Workers, Special Education Aides, Bus Drivers, Gardeners, Custodians, Cafeteria Workers, Maintenance Workers, Early Education and Head Start Workers, Child Care Providers, and others working in schools, colleges, and administrative offices throughout Southern California.

        • Seeing the mention of the non-instructional personnel reminds me that many schools basically categorize teacher/instructors separate from other employees of which there are a great number if you include all the others such as maintenance, bus drivers, nurses, lunch workers, etc and SOME schools do not break down the categories much beyond instruction and “other” than they just lump into administrative.

          so anytime you see something published along these lines, it’s helpful to know the full count of employees and the major sub-categories and if all you see are administrative and instructional, then they are putting everything that is not direct instruction into “administrative”

          it makes a nice sound bite rant but it’s not particularly relevant.

  5. re: ” this is exactly what finland did. they largely dumped the national curriculum in favor of some very broad guidelines and let each school decide what and how to teach to a great extent. they empowered the principals and teachers to make those choices and with no extra money went from being some of the worst schools in the eu to near the best.”

    my understanding is that Finland as well as the rest of Europe and Japan has national curriculums and national testing.

    do you have a link to show that Finland has abandoned that?

    you definitely don’t want teacher or even principles deciding what to teach …. because we already know that does not work and people “graduate” from school as functional illiterates.

    Have you heard of NAEP and PISA? do you know what they do – worldwide?

    • This bet seems to have paid off. By the mid-1990s, the country had ended the highly regulated system of curriculum management (reflected in older curriculum guides that had exceeded 700 pages of prescriptions). The current national core curriculum is a much leaner document—featuring fewer than 10 pages of guidance for all of mathematics, for example—that guides teachers in collectively developing local curriculum and assessments. The focus of 1990s curricular reform was on science, technology, and innovation, leading to an emphasis on teaching students how to think creatively and manage their own learning.

      There are no external standardized tests used to rank students or schools in Finland, and most teacher feedback to students is in narrative form, emphasizing descriptions of their learning progress and areas for growth. As in the NAEP exams in the United States, samples of students are evaluated on open-ended assessments at the end of the second and ninth grades to inform curriculum and school investments. The focus is on using information to drive learning and problem-solving, rather than punishment.

      Finland maintains one exam prior to attending university: the matriculation exam, organized and evaluated by a matriculation exam board appointed by the Finnish Ministry of Education. Although not required for graduation or entry into a university, it is common practice for students to take this set of four open-ended exams that emphasize problem-solving, analysis, and writing. Teachers use official guidelines to grade the matriculation exams locally, and samples of the grades are re-examined by professional raters hired by the matriculation exam board. Although it is counterintuitive to those accustomed to external testing as a means of accountability, Finland’s use of school-based, student-centered, open-ended tasks embedded in the curriculum is often touted as an important reason for the nation’s success on the international exams

  6. I wonder if there is a correlation of increased adminstrative staff with the increased intrusion of the federal government into the public education system?

    Opinion piece in the Columbia County News Times dated August 11, 2012: In many respects, the wounds to public schools are self-inflicted. Thanks to intrusion from the federal government and the influence in other states of public-sector unions, public education has suffered from a bloat of negative publicity that has sapped much of the goodwill otherwise directed toward it

  7. it’s hard to believe that people believe that if you let any teacher decide what to teach that kids will do well on international test comparisons – especially when the vast majority of countries that do score high on PISA – all have national curricula and national testing.

    think about this. A kid’s parents move from one school to another and what happens if you don’t have a standardized curricula?

    you put him in a new class with material he’s never seen or prepared for OR you put him in a class where the material is what he covered 6 months ago.

    it’s bizarre just thinking about why anyone would think such an approach would make sense.

    it makes no sense. Zero sense.

    • “think about this. A kid’s parents move from one school to another and what happens if you don’t have a standardized curricula?”

      First, you’re making a huge assumption that the existing curricula is actually effective. Why do we even want every single 8th grader learning exactly the same thing?

      Second, you assume that this doesn’t happen now, and that there is no rational solution other than adding dozens of “curriculum advisors” to oversee and manage the solution. In fact, I can recall moving several times during my school years and, for example, my new school put me in a higher level language class because I had already taken a year of German. Common sense. And, despite wide variances between the school systems in Georgia, rural Virginia, and Minnesota, I somehow survived and now have a Master’s degree.

      Finally, school systems react much too slowly. Look at the advance of technology and the lack of skilled workers to run these advanced machines. We’d be much better off with localized schools that could react to needs of the local economy. For example, BMW sends its South Carolina employees to significant amounts of training and education in order to make them productive workers. However, since BMW is not in West Virginia, why teach those students how to run complex manufacturing systems? It’s just more waste. We need to worry more about effectiveness and not try to set a “fair” common baseline that likely serves no one.

      • Most of the school systems internationally that clean our clocks have national curricula and national testing and that means any kid who moves picks up right where they left off.

        In this country that’s not been true and you’re talking to guy whose dad was in the armed services and went to 8 different schools and has the gaps in education to prove it.

        • Again it seems you’re envisioning and idealistic school system where all the schools are equivalent. They aren’t. Not in the countries that beat our academic scores and certainly not here in the USA. I went to 6 different schools as well. My parents actually moved back to Minnesota after living in rural Virginia for a few years. One part of the decision was that the schools were so bad.

          Setting standards and hiring administrators to oversee things doesn’t change the fact that there is huge variability in the education system. And, the largest factor is how hard the students work. Jobs and Gates have proven that.

        • In this country that’s not been true and you’re talking to guy whose dad was in the armed services and went to 8 different schools and has the gaps in education to prove it.

          Those gaps in your education aren’t very likely a result of moving a lot. It has more to do with your inability to comprehend what you read. Rufus has just explained to you that he had the same problem with moving a lot, but he has no gaps in his education.

          You either don’t understand what he’s telling you, or you don’t like it because it removes that excuse for your lack of education.

          • re: ” Those gaps in your education aren’t very likely a result of moving a lot. It has more to do with your inability to comprehend what you read. ”

            let me suggest to you that, as usual, you don’t what the F you are talking about.

            This type of thing is seen all the time in the local school system which deals with armed service kids from other states.

            I suggest you spend some time trying to understand how different curricula in different states do not “mesh” regardless of your asinine and condescending comments that matter little to the discussion at hand.

            You might try reading up on the Common Core initiative while further contemplation of your navel.

          • Oh! I’ve struck a nerve. I must have been right about your problem.

            This type of thing is seen all the time in the local school system which deals with armed service kids from other states.

            Meaningless drivel. Military kids move all over the world, not just around the US. Would you prefer a global education oversight body of some type to ensure that all the world’s children get the same indoctrination?

            You are using a poor excuse for your own ignorance. Many kids move frequently and still get good educations. You haven’t shown otherwise. Rufus has already explained that to you.

            Education is more than just cramming facts and figures and propaganda into those poor little heads.

          • “Oh! I’ve struck a nerve. I must have been right about your problem.”

            nope. I’m just tired of your ignorant posts.

            ““This type of thing is seen all the time in the local school system which deals with armed service kids from other states.”

            Meaningless drivel. Military kids move all over the world, not just around the US. Would you prefer a global education oversight body of some type to ensure that all the world’s children get the same indoctrination?”

            you don’t know what the hell you are talking about – as usual.

            “You are using a poor excuse for your own ignorance. Many kids move frequently and still get good educations. You haven’t shown otherwise. Rufus has already explained that to you.”

            as usual you’re playing the idiot.

            “Education is more than just cramming facts and figures and propaganda into those poor little heads.”

            indeed it is and you have no clue..lots of opinions but minimal knowledge and zero real intelligence because you don’t know that you don’t know.. the worst kind of ignorance.

          • you’ve struck no nerve. You simply don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

            if you take the time to look at the Common Core initiative you’ll see the benefits of a standardized curricula which includes kids who move around to different schools.

            if you had a clue you’d know this.

            education in the early grades is a step-by-step process and it matters which steps occur when and whether you are getting the steps in the order they need to be presented.

          • you’ve struck no nerve. You simply don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

            “The nerve doth protest too much, methinks.”

            if you take the time to look at the Common Core initiative you’ll see the benefits of a standardized curricula which includes kids who move around to different schools.

            I’m familiar with the Common core Initiative. The benefit is assumed, but never substantiated. It’s just another attempt to enhance federal government power, in an area in which it has no Constitutional authority, at the expense of the states, using bribes of taxpayer money.

            education in the early grades is a step-by-step process and it matters which steps occur when and whether you are getting the steps in the order they need to be presented.

            you don’t know what the hell you are talking about – as usual.

            Larry, it’s YOU who doesn’t know what I’m talking about. As I pointed out, you don’t understand what you read.

            But you’re not alone, Larry, this guy shared your disgusting fascist notions about the benefits of central government control of education.

            In the case of your local school district, and any other case where a student moves from one school to another, there are bound to be differences. Don’t you think teachers, and especially parents can accommodate any gaps as needed?

            Or perhaps as you wrote, you don’t believe teachers should have any discretion in what they teach, and must be forced to follow a set curriculum at a given pace with no deviation or initiative. If that’s the case, then Paul is right, that teachers could be paid minimum wage for a job where someone else has already done all the thinking for them.

  8. “if you take the time to look at the Common Core initiative you’ll see the benefits of a standardized curricula which includes kids who move around to different schools.”

    I’m familiar with the Common core Initiative. The benefit is assumed, but never substantiated. It’s just another attempt to enhance federal government power, in an area in which it has no Constitutional authority, at the expense of the states, using bribes of taxpayer money.”

    more ignorant blather here…. it’s a STATE initiative .. how much do you really know here? You don’t know.

    The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).”

    “you don’t know what the hell you are talking about – as usual.”

    Larry, it’s YOU who doesn’t know what I’m talking about. As I pointed out, you don’t understand what you read.

    I understand perfectly well nimrod. I can actually read who is behind the CCI.

    “But you’re not alone, Larry, this guy shared your disgusting fascist notions about the benefits of central government control of education.

    In the case of your local school district, and any other case where a student moves from one school to another, there are bound to be differences. Don’t you think teachers, and especially parents can accommodate any gaps as needed?”

    teachers can do this if there are no standards to compare to? what exactly would you expect a teacher or a parent to do to figure out the deficits?

    “Or perhaps as you wrote, you don’t believe teachers should have any discretion in what they teach, and must be forced to follow a set curriculum at a given pace with no deviation or initiative. If that’s the case, then Paul is right, that teachers could be paid minimum wage for a job where someone else has already done all the thinking for them.”

    teachers nor parents know the gaps unless they test if there is not standard.

    the only thing they could do is test the student and look at what was covered where he was before and try to cover what was not yet covered. Teachers would have to do this basically one-on-one while they tried to teach the standard course to the rest of the class.

    you do not know what the hell you are talking about.

    you have no clue and are displaying it. This is your type these days. You are so arrogant you think you know whatever a profession does and you don’t guy.

    you have no clue what teachers really have to do and your attitudes show your ignorance of the field.

    kids who move around in a country that has no national standards have big problems with double covering some subjects and gaps not covered – at the same time.

    this is one of the reasons why the Common Core initiative is deemed important and it is a state initiative… not a federal one.

    Why don’t you go get some minimal information before you blather your ignorance?

    • this is one of the reasons why the Common Core initiative is deemed important and it is a state initiative… not a federal one.

      It’s hard to believe you can ignore the fact that both the National Organization of Governors and the CCSSO are national organizations, funded by taxpayer money. You can’t just make stuff up to suit your agenda.

      You haven’t yet explained why it’s important that every school teach exactly the same thing at exactly the same grade and age level, nor more importantly why international contests have any benefits. It seems you fail to understand the basic purpose of education, who benefits from it, who wants it, and who should decide what it will include.

      Pathetic. You fascists are really a threat to the rest of us.

      Sieg Heil, Larry.

      • “this is one of the reasons why the Common Core initiative is deemed important and it is a state initiative… not a federal one.”

        It’s hard to believe you can ignore the fact that both the National Organization of Governors and the CCSSO are national organizations, funded by taxpayer money. You can’t just make stuff up to suit your agenda.”

        NOT FEDERAL NIMROD! this is a multi-state cooperative effort as opposed to top-down from the Feds.

        “You haven’t yet explained why it’s important that every school teach exactly the same thing at exactly the same grade and age level, nor more importantly why international contests have any benefits. It seems you fail to understand the basic purpose of education, who benefits from it, who wants it, and who should decide what it will include.”

        no..you’re just displaying your abject ignorance of education.

        kids learn step-by-step – if they move and miss the prior steps they do badly. It’s like starting senior level course in college without ever taking the foundation courses.

        teachers cannot know when a new kid comes in whether they have had or not the foundation courses unless they spend time trying to figure it out and if their class has already moved on to next steps, how do you catch that kids up.

        this is why standards are important – among other reasons.

        Pathetic. You fascists are really a threat to the rest of us.

        in your world – interstate design standards are “fascism”.

        you live in an idiotic world guy… you cannot deal with realities… you can’t even understand why.

      • this is why standards are important – among other reasons.

        What other reasons could there be, Larry?

        in your world – interstate design standards are “fascism”.

        In my world top down planning by those who think they know what’s best for me and my family and would force me to follow their rules and pay for it is fascism.

        kids learn step-by-step – if they move and miss the prior steps they do badly. It’s like starting senior level course in college without ever taking the foundation courses.

        teachers cannot know when a new kid comes in whether they have had or not the foundation courses unless they spend time trying to figure it out and if their class has already moved on to next steps, how do you catch that kids up.

        You should probably ask a teacher how they would do that. Given the flexibility to deviate from the one and only rigid path you would allow them they could work miracles.

        Although you can’t imagine it, a teacher would know pretty quickly if a new student was lacking some background and help them catch up. I thought that’s why they were called teachers. If you just need someone to hand out preplanned assignments, you only need administrators, not teachers.

        Do you think that a student who somehow missed part of step 57 in their 200 step k-12 education can never continue until it is made up. How funny.

        You are projecting your own inadequacies onto others.

        How did people ever get educated at all before there was central planning and standardized lesson plans?

        no..you’re just displaying your abject ignorance of education.

        That’s not good enough. You didn’t answer the question.

  9. appreciate the repost – most of the folks commenting haven’t changed their minds – you maybe preaching to the choir.
    One statistic I would like to explore is that I know some areas of the country have positive increase, negative declines, or stated about the same with regards to the k-12 enrollment. would be interesting to see the injuns to chiefs ratios for these different groups.

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