Charting the K-12 Productivity Implosion

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Previously on JPGB, I wrote about how the world is getting better all the time, with the notable exception of K-12 education. That post included the following chart from Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute:

So just how did we manage to pull this off? The Digest of Education Statistics illustrates how we managed it on the spending side. First, the number of teachers per pupil expanded substantially. Now I am writing this in my pajamas before having my morning caffeine, so feel free to double-check my numbers from the source.

The vast expansion of the teaching workforce is entirely overshadowed however by the truly mind-boggling expansion of the non-teacher workforce. Take special note of the ratios of teachers to non-teachers:

So the trend in the overall pupil per public school employee ratio:

So while the public school system has been busy vastly increasing employment, what has been going on with student achievement? The long-term NAEP reading trend looks like this:

 While the long-term NAEP math trend looks like this:

To sum up, we had a vast increase in the number of public school employees per student in the American public school system. In terms of outputs, we managed a two point gain in the average 17 year olds math achievement, and another point in reading. Mind you, that’s one point on a 500 point scale exam.

I’m ready to try something different.

50 Responses to Charting the K-12 Productivity Implosion

  1. allen says:

    Be nice to see how charters compare. I suspect charters aren’t anywhere near as administratively top-heavy.

    I do remember reading an article in Forbes some time back about the explosion of administrative/non-teaching professionals in public education but the main focus was on central office staff. The article compared the New York Catholic school system’s administrative staff to the that of the New York public school district.

    I don’t recall the exact numbers but even on a percentage basis the district had a massively swollen central office staff compared to the diocesesn system.

    Scrabbling for numbers, I think it was something like 17,000 central office employees for the district and 170 for the diocese.

  2. Mike McShane says:

    Great post Matt! Bob Maranto and I have a book on Education Reform in the Obama Presidency coming out in September with Palgrave that spends a couple of hundred pages trying to pick apart a couple of these very graphs. Great minds think alike!

    In researching the book, I was particularly blown away by the unreal increase in non-teaching staff per student. What I don’t understand is why teachers are not outraged. These staff members are cutting into money that could be going to teachers, so it makes little sense (outside of political alliances forged between the unions representing the different groups) for them to get behind this. It appears to me another clear cut example of teachers unions acting against the best interest of their members.

    • matthewladner says:

      Funny you mention that, because I had the same thought about why teachers don’t seem to find the vast increase in the number of non-teachers objectionable while I was writing the post.

      Someone with a better grasp of the non-obvious than me will have to provide an explanation.

      • Greg Forster says:

        Mutual protection pact. It’s not a zero sum game. They both benefit from the partnership even if one benefits more than the other. C’mon, Matt, this is Econ 101!

      • allen says:

        I’d say the lack of objection to the increase in non-teaching professionals is that the increase doesn’t come out of the teacher’s hides.

        As long as the raises and benefit increases keep coming what difference does it make that the superintendant has an assistant to the assistant or that there are half a dozen assistant principals in the high school?

        The problem comes when the budget increases stop.

        Teachers, being the bottom of the organizational hierarchy, and thus most numerous professionals, are naturally seen as the best place to go looking for heads to cut. Better yet, cutting popular programs brings parents boiling out of the woodwork to holler at politicians who won’t cough up more money or sends those parents off to pound the pavement at the next attempt to raise property taxes.

        Also, the teachers most likely to be cut are going to low-seniority teachers who haven’t achieved tenure and about whom the union doesn’t much care.

        Cutting non-teaching professionals isn’t going to result in anywhere near as much in the way of politically-useful fallout and, if they’re cut, that might just make it tougher to get their positions reinstated when the budget situation brightens.

      • Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

        Allen and George nailed it.

      • scott says:

        Non-teachers are cheaper for the school districts. They are a way to keep an eye on kids without paying for a professional.

    • George Mitchell says:

      “It appears to me another clear cut example of teachers unions acting against the best interest of their members.”


      • Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

        Teachers ARE outraged. No one is listening. 1) There is the disconnect between unions and the rank and file. The left and right LOVE to listen to union people. The left doesn because they agree with them. THe right because they mock them. THe rank and file still stick with the union because a) It protects them from small-minded vindictive administrators b) they don’t know how much more leverage they would have it they negotiated their own contracts i.e. they believe the union’s BS, but most importantly c) THE RIGHT OFFER THEM NOTHING. My republican party loves to beat up on teachers. They – the party – know nothing. The number of bad teachers is very small, yet getting rid of teachers is all their rave. If Repubs offerred legislation to help teacher regain control of the classroom they could break the Dem’s control of the professiopn 2) The media in my city (Los Angeles), while liberal treats teachers as if its their chance to get back at a teacher who gave them detention. So in my city the paper initiates stupid ideas at the expense of teacher.

        There’s more, but his is already more than most will read

        Oh – but the main cost increase is money spent on IEP’s and 504’s. Research that and get back to me

  3. Greg Forster says:


  4. George mitchell says:

    Of all the media failures in the K-12 world, nothing comes to close to the omission of historical data on spending.

  5. Ayn Marie Samuelson says:

    It is past time for individual communities to take back their schools and educate students. As a former homeschooling parent, I know what can be achieved.
    With the funding that we pay in property taxes to the “local” districts in Florida and the funding per student (FTE) from the state, competent educators can be employed and students will be allowed and encouraged to learn. Citizens do not need big government, nor do they need corporate-run education, as both will by-pass the learning needs of children over time. (See the book: Exposing the Public Education System)

    • scott says:

      Florida is a model for the destruction of an education system. You were wise to home school your kids (assuming you did in fact do a good job) given the state of your state. Unfortunately Bush’s ideas are spreading to other parts of the country. One MAJOR point not taken into consideration is the type of student the public schools need to work with. We teach to all kids regardless of background, home life, lack of home, wealthy, poor, advanced, challenged, etc. Blaming the public schools for student success is like blaming a dentist for patients with cavities. Home schooling is not real world. Having worked in a private school, I know they are not real world either.

      • chopperbobak says:

        I’m confused. The Bush reforms in Florida have produced dramatic improvements for all students, especially for the poor, ethnic and disabled. Are you saying they should place more emphasis on the rich white kids who haven’t improved as quickly?

      • Ayn Marie Samuelson says:

        “The Bush reforms in Florida have produced dramatic improvements for all students…” I wish this statement was true, but alas, it is not. There has been imrpovement in the early grades, but high school numbers are more telling. Along Florida’s Space Coast, students’ 10th grade reading scores have stagnated at the 50% percent proficiency level over the past 10 years, despite millions more in educational funding over many of those years. Check out the stats on the state website. Local communities can do better than this, and as a member of a 3,000 home residents’ association, I know what grassroots support can do for getting a job done, like educating individual students.

      • matthewladner says:

        Ayn Marie-

        Florida’s dropout rate has declined substantially since the late 1990s, and despite that the high-school FCAT scores have improved.

        In 2000, 23% of Black 10th graders scored at grade level or better on the math FCAT. In 2010, that number had improved to 52%.

        Don’t get me wrong- no one should be remotely satisfied with 48% of Black students scoring below grade level. Doubling the proficiency rate in ten years, however, is nothing at which to sneeze.

      • Ayn Marie Samuelson says:

        Matt –
        Thanks for your comment.
        My point is this: state FCAT stats for Brevard County 10th grade students for reading, on the whole, regardless of race, gender, or whatever category in which we adults like to place them, have hovered around 50% for over a decade.
        Should we be focusing so much on groups of students, or should we be focusing more on individual student progress? Many citizens grow tired of watching so many children left behind despite being categorized into different groups.
        When will the system pay attention to individual students? It will happen when the most local of communities take charge of education without the unfortunate influence of big government or big anything. From my experience in small business and community leadership, where the rubber hits the road, “Big” anything doesn’t take notice of individuals, whether they are students or parents.

      • scott says:

        Your composite ACT’s for college bound students last year put Florida in the running with Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky. Is that considered a dramatic improvement?

      • matthewladner says:

        Ayn Marie-

        It is perfectly reasonable to expect and demand more-don’t stop. I am simply making the point that it is a mistake to claim there hasn’t been progress at the high-school level in Florida. Graduation rates and test scores are both up.


        ACT/SAT scores come from a self-selected group of students, which is why if you go to their websites you can find very strong statements begging people not to make state comparisons of the sort you just made.

        Here in Arizona we have above average SAT scores, for example, but we also have the lowest participation rates in the country. While some have tried to tout our scores as some sort of positive datapoint, the sad reality is that our state universities don’t require the SAT so the only conclusion to draw is that the kids who want to attend college out of state have SAT scores barely above the average.

      • Sandra says:

        Another item that confuses the validity of the data in Florida relates to the changing cut scores. The waiver requires another tweak, which will cause a 20% increase in failing schools. Legislators are discussing the option of delaying the waiver, so poor acores will not drive business away. How about validity? There is also reporting that the decrease in drop out is not valid either, but rather a different way of counting drop out pools.

        The FCAT is one test, but that reality has changed. There are too many standardized tests, unnecessarily so. Truly a “perversion” of meaningful accountability.

        I align with Ayn’s views. Parents, community members, and taxpayers are to comply, nothing more. This is wrong.

      • Barry Stern says:

        Whether FL schools are improving or not is like the “tastes great – less filling” beer commercial debate. FL and U.S. high schools generally are losing ground to peers in other advanced countries. How do we compete when only half the grads are proficient, and that’s without counting the 7000 who drop out daily?

        So long as our high schoolers predominantly attend the factory model school where they change teachers and work groups every 45 minutes, it’s unlikely we’ll ever make it back to the top levels.

        In celebration of this weekend’s Final Four basketball tournament, I suggest we run schools and courses more like the teams that made it to finals.

        Imagine, for example, an educational program called Fast Break that applies the principles of sports teams to learn fundamentals and keeps getting better as the players (instructors and students) coalesce as a team. The program would be a module in the school curriculum, an intensive 5-8 hours a day pre-season “camp” that gets students ready for the “season”. To ensure rapid learning and develop in students a compelling vision of success, courses would be team taught, cross-disciplinary, computer-assisted, highly experiential and applied. Students like members of a sports team would help one another succeed. Indeed, even if they made good academic progress, they wouldn’t graduate unless they demonstrated good teamwork and willingness to exceed expectations.

        Actually, Fast Break exists. This 300-hour model concentrated into 8-12 weeks was developed by Focus:HOPE in Detroit in 1990, replicated in Los Angeles with a National Science Foundation demonstration grant in 1995 and expanded in Michigan and Alabama in 2000 with state funding. Students typically make 2+ grade-level gains in reading and math (1-2 WorkKeys levels) in just 2-3 months, and they obtain employable skills in computer applications, as well as teamwork, customer service, conflict resolution and other job readiness skills. The model has been very successful in helping young adults in Detroit, Los Angeles, Flint and other communities move ahead to career entry positions or college. Employers and colleges are highly satisfied with the graduates, describing them as “self-starters” who learn fast and can collaborate effectively within and across work groups both ‘live’ and virtually.

        Fast Break attracts young people and persuades them to work hard because it operates much like a high performing sports team. The program emphasizes teamwork, daily practice of fundamentals, daily feedback on individual and team performance, effective time management, continual communication among staff and students on how and why to do better the next day, continual opportunities to integrate theory and practice and to apply skills in game-like (“real world”) settings, expectations of helping fellow teammates to improve, and the targeted use of technology to diagnose and improve abilities.

        Members of the best teams like the best companies want to be driven, want discipline, want to exceed expectations, and want to be part of a group with a higher purpose and winning mission. Moreover, they want to stay together long enough to produce excellence. Sustained time together in search of a noble cause also helps teenagers and young adults develop what they want most of all—good friends.

        The Haberman Educational Foundation ( invites five Florida high schools to team with us to change the lives of 1000 young people in the next 18 months. Write us or reply to this post if your school is willing to leave the factory model behind and try Fast Break instead.

    • Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

      Ayn Marie – In Florida is “grade level” a true grade level or is it the leverl where 50% of the xth grade students score above that level and 50% scor below. Do you know the difference? Does anyone besides scott know the difference?

      BTW- That first chart is a great example of how to distort data comparisons. I look forward to using it in class as an example of propaganda. I could make that chart look completely different by adjusting the two x axes. Can anyone here justify why those two axes are properly juxtaposed? Please Republicans, we have to be more honest in our analysis. When indoctrinated youths come to our blogs (any and all media) they need to feel that we are more honest than Dems. Truth will lure them.

      • Ayn Marie Samuelson says:

        Joe stated: In Florida is ‘grade level’ a true grade level or is it the level where 50% of the xth grade students score above that level and 50% score below….?

        An excellent and often carefully, overlooked point-
        Cut-off scores have been pushed lower in some states (it may be that only 40% of the questions need to be answered correctly to be considered proficient), tests have also been “dumbed-down” to help produce the desired results, teachers have drilled students to near brain death and students have re-taken tests – all in order to be considered proficient according to the system in Florida.
        Does any of this actually benefit student or teacher proficiency? What we see where the rubber-hits-the-road versus what policy-makers institute, is that there are often different takes on the results, and there are unintended consequences.
        Politicians, for the most part, are concerned about getting elected and re-elected and following the partisan line as it benefits them.
        Grassroots communities, such as ours, also are involved with the day-to-day, in the trenches issues that affect our children, parents and teachers. Problem is, there are those who think they know better without acknowledging that their are other facts and evidence that can be provided that would give a more accurate picture of the effects.

      • Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

        RE: Cut off points. A 40% cut-off point may or may not be “dumbing-down” depending upon the design of the test. If a test was originally “norm referenced” then a 40% cut-off may not be low enough. Does anyone know if the FL tests are norm referenced tests disguised as criterion referenced? Without knowing this none of the statistical analysis were are trying to do is worth anything?

        I have a tendency of letting my posts be a place to release my bitterness over the misuse of the data. I’m calmer today. But before I go on, please let me know if you, Ayn or anyone here knows the difference between a norm referenced and criteria referenced test. They measure and report things differently. ANd I’ll be happy to explain to any and all that do not yet know the difference and the importance of the difference.

      • Ayn Marie Samuelson says:

        Briefly: In the norm-referenced test, a score would indicate whether the test-taker did better or worse in comparison with others/peers who took the test. Criterion-referenced refers to scores based on knowledge of the material tested, testing individual student’s knowledge of specific subject/course material. Tests and quizzes written by school teachers are criterion-referenced tests to determine whether each student has learned the material. Other tests can also be criterion-referenced, depending on the purpose.

        With regard to Florida’s FCAT, this is from the FLDOE website: “The FCAT Reading and Mathematics Norm-Referenced Test (NRT) was first administered in 2000, and since that time, Harcourt Assessment, Inc. (now Pearson Education, Inc.) has been Florida’s NRT contractor. From 2000-2004, the FCAT NRT was the Stanford 9©. The NRT portion of the FCAT from 2005-2008 was a custom form of the Stanford 10©, published by The Psychological Corporation™ (a division of Pearson). The reading scores were based on the Reading Comprehension subtest, and the mathematics scores were based on the Problem Solving subtest. From 2000-2008, all students in Grades 3-10 were required to take the FCAT NRT.
        In 2008, Senate Bill 1908 removed the requirement that the statewide assessment program include norm-referenced component, and in a memo (PDF) dated June 17, 2008, the Department provided official notice of the removal of the FCAT NRT from the statewide assessment program. Beginning with the 2008-09 school year, the FCAT NRT will no longer be administered at any grade level.”

        Then: “The FCAT Reading and Mathematics Sunshine State Standards (SSS) test is a criterion-referenced test. It assesses student achievement on the knowledge and skills described in the state curriculum framework called the Sunshine State Standards.”

        “The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT)® is a component of Florida’s effort to improve the teaching and learning of higher educational standards. The primary purpose of the FCAT, a criterion-referenced test, is to assess student achievement of the high-order thinking skills represented in the Sunshine State Standards (SSS) for Reading, Writing, Mathematics, and Science. In the 2010-2011 school year, the statewide assessment program began transitioning to assessing student achievement of the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards through the implementation of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test® 2.0 (FCAT 2.0) and Florida End-of-Course (EOC) Assessments. Selected grades and subjects will continue to participate in FCAT assessments until the transition is complete.”
        The FL Next Gen SSS are common core standards…..but that is another saga.

      • Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

        Ayn Marie – Thank-you. You obviously understand. I hope you were not insulted by the question. I need to re-read your reply to discern / timeline when FL was tested with norn and when with criterion tests. Then I’ll be interested in that number flow.

        I am glad that FL is currently under it’s own state determined standards. I find the Fed COmmon COre Standards a threat to state’s and individual’s freedoms .(I’m a big 10th Amendment guy.)

        Thank-you again. I look forward to more discussion. You obviously know the factors. I’m distrustful of politicians and do-gooders who don’t know the factors.

        May I ask where you work, or from what background you come … not to pidgeonhole you but to have an idea of what kinds of experiences you have?

  6. Bob Griffin says:

    It would also be interesting to see US PISA results compared to the rapid increase in cost.

  7. I feel like NAEP scores should be adjusted for demographic changes for this sort of analysis. Am I wrong? I think the picture isn’t so bleak when gains for subgroups are taken into account.

  8. matthewladner says:


    Jay and Greg addressed this question back in 2004:

    Click to access ewp_06.pdf

  9. Barry Stern says:

    That what we’re doing isn’t working is widely shared. The longer American kids stay in school, the worse they do relative to peers in countries with whom the U.S. competes. Dropping out or tuning out of high school is a logical response of our teenagers to the top down, teacher-centric, one-size-fits-all curriculum that pervades. For a more holistic approach that embodies the way we achieve excellence in sports, business, the military, and most places outside of school, see the following article, which includes many of the same points made by Matt and Jay:

    • Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

      I am public school teacher in Los Angeles.

      There is a lot of great learning and teaching going on in U.S. schools, but it’s happening in private schools. My school district knows nothing about fostering learning.

      Here’s what caused those numbers:
      1) In addition to wasteful spending on admistrators since 1978 we have been making a HUGE investment in the least productive students due to the Americans with Disabilities Acts (See IEPs and 504s)

      2) BOTH parties support the self-esteem movement. Dems promotes it; Repubs don’t fight it.

      3) Hetrogenous grouping is lowers achiement for all students.

      4) Administration has had to explode to keep up with the paperwork. When will Repubs attack the Depts. of Ed like they are OSHA or the EPA.

      5) The charts’ numbers are skewed. They count every employee and make it look like each on is a teacher in front of students.

      • Greg Forster says:

        Republicans already do fight DOE exactly the same way they fight OSHA and EPA. They make a lot of noise and do nothing of substance.

        Oh, and since the whole point of the chart is to show that our investment in schools is being mishandled, there’s nothing misleading about including all employees. That’s the whole point – to show that we’re hiring lots of people who aren’t contributing to educational outcomes.

      • mmazenko says:

        Joe, you correctly note the “great learning and teaching” going on in US schools, but your oversimplification of public vs. private is sad and naive commentary. Nationwide thousands of public schools are taking education farther than many ever imagined with AP classes – truly high quality college education – being handled by kids as young as tenth grade. From Cherry Creek in Denver to New Trier and Stevenson in Chicago to Stanton in Florida to Bellevue in Seattle, public education is overwhelmingly successful across the nation.

        Of course, I am no pollyanna, and I completely acknowledge the downside and struggling systems. But, it’s worth noting that much criticism of US schools against the world comes from PISA and TIMMS tests, where we rank middle to bottom. However, and this is key, when we eliminate scores from US schools with greater than 10% poverty, the US schools ranks number one in the world. We best Finland, Korea, Singapore, etc. when we look at the top three quarters (socioeconomically) of our schools.

        That said, I will agree with you on the issue of special ed adding to cost. And both Matt and Jay grossly underestimate non-classroom costs. In addition to special ed classes and the caseworkers necessary to file all the required paperwork for IEPs and 504s, schools have seen increasing costs in security in the post-Columbine and 9/11 era. Transportation costs have dramatically increased with growth in suburbs and exurbs. The dramatic rise of ELA needs are huge in many districts. And, in terms of labor, Matt and CATO seem to ignore how rising health care costs are seriously jacking up labor costs at all US companies, not just schools. This doesn’t even begin to acknowledge the role technology has played in increasing costs. And it’s not all for the classroom. All grades and attendance is now done on-line in many schools – out of parent/taxpayer – request. But online attendance – while increasing cost to maintain computer systems – is not going to increase NAEP scores.

        While Matt will continue to attempt forcing basic market principles to public education, he is way behind the curve in his research which identifies areas such as education, health care, and motivation that don’t react to basic market principles the way consumer merchandising does.

      • George Mitchell says:

        “However, and this is key, when we eliminate scores from US schools with greater than 10% poverty, the US schools ranks number one in the world.”

        it would be interesting to see the documentation for this statement. For example, how many schools would be excluded from the calculation and what is their enrollment? How many would be left and what is their enrollment?

      • Barry Stern says:

        Good point, George. What percent of schools in U.S. have less than 10% poverty? I know of hardly any. And how do you get a comparable number for countries that don’t even keep such a statistic. No other country produces as much data as we do ….. and uses it less!

      • George Mitchell says:

        That was basically my thinking. In Wisconsin the 10% poverty break point would eliminate most and perhaps all schools in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, etc.

        I think it’s a phony number but perhaps the person who put it forward can show otherwise.

      • mmazenko says:

        Mel Riddile of the NatlAssocSecPrincipals has outlined these basics on his blog:

        The schools in the top ten on these international tests have less than 10% nationwide. Nationwide. Finland has about 4% poverty. Thus, it is a significant detail when criticizing “public education.” And the number of schools with more than 10% is not the majority of schools. In fact, people like Jay Matthews and Fareed Zakaria have often cited data that the top two-thirds of American schools are competitive with all the top countries school systems.

      • George Mitchell says:

        Unless I missed it, the “evidence” presented in the linked article does not estimate the number of American students in schools with 10% poverty the US ranks first. How many US students, numerically and as a % of all US students, are excluded to arrive at that ranking?

      • I don’t know the numbers of students and schools. But the numbers are pretty clear on the schools lower than 10% and all the way up to 50% poverty. Considering only 20% of American schools are considered “high poverty” – and less than 10% of high schools are – I’d say the numbers of schools successful on PISA is a considerable number of our schools. Did you read the breakdown of all schools?

      • In case you didn’t read the whole post:

        U.S. students in schools with 10% or less poverty are number one country in the world.

        · U.S. students in schools with 10-24.9% poverty are third behind Korea, and Finland.

        · U.S. students in schools with 25-50% poverty are tenth in the world.

        · U.S. students in schools with greater than 50% poverty are near the bottom.

        · There were other surprises. Germany with less than half our poverty, scored below the U.S. as did France with less than a third our poverty and Sweden with a low 3.6% poverty rate.

        · Having recently listened to Sir Michael Barber talk about the amazing progress of the reforms in the United Kingdom, I was absolutely shocked to see that the UK, with 25% less poverty, scored below the U.S. average.

  10. Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

    Jay. Please, please, please look into the negative effects of IDEA.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Jay has written extensively on that, but you’re not gonna like what he says.

      • Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

        Greg, please see my post to Jay regarding the costs of IDEA.

        BTW: The costs to which I refer are not the ones to which he refers.

        Have you any comments on my other points?

    • I believe you are mistaken, Joe, in blaming special ed for the bulk of rising education spending. See

      • Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

        I hadn’t even considered the cost of private placements. Even if it inconsequential as you say it would add to my argument.

        The costs I’m referring to are the cost of one-to-one teacher assistants ( misnomer – they rarely assist me, they only act as a mommy sitting next to them), plus the bureaucratic costs to serve this group.

        Your data is 8 years old. Got anything current? Your data on moneies spent is current.

        Perhaps I missed something:
        Where DO you say the added money is going? Have I missed that article of yours? If I have please point me to it.

        We both seek the same thing – an education system that works. I’m not a union-hugging Democrat. I’m a teacher with 5 years experience teaching in NJ in the ’70-80’s, twelve years of success in the private sector in media sales and accounting, and now another 16 years back in the classroom. My years in the private sector showed me why Republican policies were better. But, my last pay increase came in 2006 and then it did not match the increase in the rate of inflation over the previous 4 years. I’ll get a pension better than some others, but I DO pay 8% of my salary into the system and I THINK, though I have to confirm this, that the school districts have not always made their yearly contributions using stock market gains to cover their obligations.

        On top of that teachers who have spent all their working careers in CA get no Social Security. And California is one of the states that somehow found a loophole in the 1986 Tax Reform Act and has never been a part of Social Security – saving them the approx 7% employer matching contribution to FICA. (Because I have my 40 quarters of qualification from time in the private sector I’ll get the minimum amount MINUS a 40% deduction because of my CA teachers pension)

        Additionally, before I got to the LAUSD – mismanagement required teachers take an accross the board pay cut around 1992 that has never been “made-up.

        I’m trying to share the view from the trenches. I AIN’T getting rich and I’m surely worse off than most of my classmates from undergraduate college. That’s why I sound resentful when I think you attack teachers unfairly.

        I look forward to your response. Joe

      • Hi Joe. Read the side-bar (the shaded part) in that article where we estimate the extent to which special ed accounts for overall spending increases over the last several decades. As you correctly note, the cost of special ed is mostly the cost of hiring extra teachers to reduce the student teacher ratio. But the ratio has not come down to one to one, as you describe, except in very rare circumstances. We find that the extra costs of serving students in special education have increased significantly over time. Then again the total resources provided to schools have also increased significantly. In the end, we estimate that the extra cost of serving disabilities constituted roughly the same share of total spending (8.3%) in 2003 as it did in 1977. Student-teacher ratios have been reduced dramatically for everyone, not just special education students.

  11. Joe in LA - slowly leaving the Republican Party says:

    One to one is not a teacher to student ratio. A “one-to-one” is an adult assigned through IDEA/IEP to a student. Its hard to discuss with you because you live in research and I live in the trenches. You keep misunderstanding the simplest of references … because you simply don’t know what’s going on. Your heart is in the right place. Please get some hands-on experience; it will make you so much more effective.

  12. […] most famously in Colorado with Amendment 23 in 2000.   Nationally and at the state level, rising per-pupil spending with little results was the norm for decades, though not so much anymore.   Having sought a return to […]

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