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May 17 2010

Guessing Where School Bailout II Money Will Go

Vicki E. Alger

 President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan want Congress to pass another public-school bailout totaling $23 billion to save hundreds of thousands of teaching jobs. But maybe bureaucracy, not budget shortfalls, is ultimately to blame for making teaching risky business. According to Duncan's own department, the ranks of non-teaching public-school and district staff have swelled in recent decades. Thanks to the Goldwater Institute's Matthew Ladner for presenting this national trend with some very handy graphs. The table below ranks states according to their latest teacher to non-teacher employee ratios, also based on data from Duncan's department (states ranked highest have more teachers compared to non-teachers on public school/district staff; states ranked lowest have the least teachers compared to non-teachers on public school/district staff.) So South Carolina does best with 2.5 teachers for every non-teacher on staff; while Virginia does the worst for having half a teacher for every non-teacher on staff. (Such bizarre percentages happen because of how public schools and districts define who is a "teacher").

Some people may think that pouring more money into a government-run schooling system that puts a premium on non-instructional functions over teaching will reverse this trend. So the table below also includes per-pupil expenditures reported by ED. Total per-pupil expenditures include politically sensitive figures such as capital and interest on school debt, so they're the highest (keep these figures in mind next time a bond comes up for a vote). They also include instruction, transportation, food service, support staff, administration, and general operation and maintenance. Current per-pupil expenditures include all those spending items except capital and interest on school debt, so they're lower. The table isolates instruction expenditures, which are lowest of all.

Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced plans to double federal "family involvement" funding to $270 million. Why not simply put parents in charge of their children's existing education dollars and let them be truly involved by picking their children's schools? If the government-run schooling bureaucracy had to answer to them, then maybe the teacher and instruction spending columns below would be a whole lot bigger.

Staff (Fall 2007)

Per-Pupil Spending (2006-07 unadjusted $)

Teacher to Non-Teacher Ratio

Total

Current

Instruction

South Carolina

2.53

$10,819

$8,566

$4,939

Nevada

1.93

$10,028

$7,806

$4,733

Kansas

1.87

$10,358

$9,243

$5,607

Rhode Island

1.79

$13,964

$13,453

$8,103

Illinois

1.75

$10,859

$9,596

$5,651

Massachusetts

1.35

$13,790

$12,857

$8,289

New York

1.31

$16,981

$15,546

$10,740

Wisconsin

1.28

$11,608

$10,367

$6,347

South Dakota

1.24

$9,104

$8,064

$4,682

New Jersey

1.24

$17,794

$16,163

$9,611

Idaho

1.24

$8,020

$6,648

$4,081

Montana

1.21

$10,026

$9,191

$5,566

Oklahoma

1.17

$8,157

$7,430

$4,307

Pennsylvania

1.13

$12,759

$10,905

$6,668

West Virginia

1.13

$9,959

$9,727

$5,774

Delaware

1.12

$14,098

$11,760

$7,048

Hawaii

1.11

$12,358

$11,060

$6,517

North Dakota

1.10

$9,721

$8,671

$5,025

North Carolina

1.10

$8,950

$7,878

$4,887

California

1.10

$10,761

$8,952

$5,379

Washington

1.08

$10,484

$8,524

$5,061

Arizona

1.07

$8,904

$7,338

$4,461

Missouri

1.05

$10,195

$8,848

$5,349

Florida

1.05

$11,077

$8,567

$5,108

Unites States

1.05

$11,257

$9,683

$5,903

Tennessee

1.04

$7,872

$7,129

$4,547

Maryland

1.03

$13,529

$11,975

$7,348

District of Columbia

1.03

$18,791

$15,511

$8,045

Texas

1.03

$9,756

$7,850

$4,673

Iowa

1.01

$10,311

$8,791

$5,290

Nebraska

1.01

$11,544

$10,068

$6,403

Utah

1.01

$7,097

$5,706

$3,605

Georgia

0.99

$10,597

$9,102

$5,744

Minnesota

0.96

$11,379

$9,589

$6,191

Louisiana

0.95

$10,020

$8,937

$5,188

Arkansas

0.93

$9,694

$8,391

$4,966

Colorado

0.93

$10,092

$8,286

$4,792

New Mexico

0.91

$9,863

$8,849

$5,011

New Hampshire

0.91

$12,312

$11,037

$7,113

Mississippi

0.89

$8,195

$7,459

$4,385

Oregon

0.87

$9,872

$8,958

$5,254

Michigan

0.85

$11,421

$9,922

$5,631

Alaska

0.85

$14,574

$12,324

$7,021

Vermont

0.84

$14,528

$13,629

$8,618

Connecticut

0.83

$15,925

$13,659

$8,580

Alabama

0.82

$9,514

$8,398

$4,916

Ohio

0.82

$11,573

$9,940

$5,702

Wyoming

0.81

$16,183

$13,266

$7,814

Indiana

0.81

$10,334

$9,080

$5,445

Kentucky

0.77

$9,228

$7,940

$4,719

Maine

0.71

$12,355

$11,644

$7,614

Virginia

0.54

$11,600

$10,214

$6,253

Source: Murray's table based on ED, NCES Digest 2009, Tables 81 and 183.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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