American Elephants

Too Many Administrators, Not Enough Students. by The Elephant's Child

The news has been full over the past few years of a flood of politically correct nonsense emanating from our public schools, large amounts of it to do with a zero tolerance policy for guns, violence, or anything threatening.

So we have had small boys removed from school for biting a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun (more a case of non-artistic bites, he was trying for a mountain). Small children have been banished for drawing pictures of guns, bringing the inch-long guns from toy soldiers to school, decorating a cake with toy soldiers, the silliness goes on and on. Teachers and administrators are unable to distinguish between a real gun and a plastic squirt gun, or a picture of a gun.

Now some clues to the absurdity are emerging. In the last 20 years, the number of K-12 administrators has increased 2.3 times faster than the number of students in school, according to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Teacher employment has also outpaced student growth, though not as rapidly as the numbers of administrators.

Since 1950, administrative positions at K-12 schools have increased by 700 percent— seven times faster than the growth in student enrollment. Benjamin Scafidi, a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation and associate professor at Georgia College& State University said there is scant evidence that such an employment surge has done anything positive for student achievement.

The burden of proof is now on those who still want to maintain or even increase the dramatically larger staffing levels in public schools,

 The expansion in numbers is a clear clue to increasing bureaucracy, increasing busy work, more rules. If there are not increasing numbers of students to justify a need for more administrators,  then somebody is doing some empire building, and you have to find work for the new people to do.
Colleges and universities are suffering from similar administrative bloat. Even as the numbers of administrators have increased, the average workload for professors has declined, leading to higher costs per student. Between 1988 and 2004, there has been a 25 percent decline in the course load for professors. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni and Education Sector produced a study that estimates that more than 80 percent of tuition increases could have been prevented if universities simply maintained the same course load for instructors. A pretty sad commentary for all those young people graduating from college with no employment prospects and immense student loans. The study’s author said:
If education loads had not declined, and universities used that savings to offset tuition increases, they could have not done 54 percent of the tuition increases.
For those who work in  higher education, the incentives prioritize research over instruction. Grants go to those who can write a good grant proposal. Of course much important research is done i our universities, but you will also find some startling examples of research grants that are held up as examples of funding that should have been dumped, in place of sequester cuts Obama has made. I suspect that Obama had no idea that there would be so many prime examples of waste and malfeasance paid for by the taxpayers.

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“I suspect that Obama had no idea that there would be so many prime examples of waste and malfeasance paid for by the taxpayers.”

I suspect he did not and does not care.


Comment by Lon Mead

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