| March 12, 2014

School Administrator Job Growth Dwarfs Student Growth

Amid the ongoing discussion of the need for more funding of Oklahoma’s public education system, an important point is often overlooked: According to data that the state of Oklahoma reports to the U.S. Department of Education, Oklahoma school district administration has been growing dramatically.

According to a new analysis by economist Benjamin Scafidi, “Using the time period available, FY 1998 to FY 2011, Oklahoma public schools increased employment in school district administration by 49 percent, while the number of students in Oklahoma public schools increased by only 6 percent. In other words, in Oklahoma public schools, school district administration employment increased over eight times faster than its student population from FY 1998 to FY 2011.”

We’ve now reached the point that “only half of Oklahoma’s public education employees are teachers,” as Greg Forster pointed out in these pages in January 2011 (“The Blob That Ate the Schools”). “The bureaucracy is now so big, it takes up half the system.”

There’s absolutely no reason for any sector of government to directly employ bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors, or any of the rest of this category. The whole enchilada needs to be privatized posthaste. You wouldn’t just eliminate unnecessary positions that are there due to featherbedding, although that’s considerable. More important, though, you’d be able to pay the market rate for the positions you kept, instead of hyperinflated civil-service salaries and benefits. And you’d be able to fire people if they didn’t deliver good services.

When only half of Oklahoma’s public education employees are teachers—and the administrative growth shows no sign of letting up—policymakers should ask themselves if more money is really the answer.


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