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ERIC Number: ED536674
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Pages: 32
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 25
The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America's Public Schools
Scafidi, Benjamin
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
This report analyzes changes in public school staffing over time by examining data from the annual editions of the Digest of Education Statistics, which is compiled by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. The report's main part analyzes changes in public school staffing over the past generation, the fiscal year (FY) 1992 to FY 2009. Particular attention is paid to changes in (a) overall public school staffing relative to changes in the number of public school students, and (b) changes in the number of teachers and non-teaching staff relative to the change in number of students. In reading this report, please keep two issues in mind: (1) Although dramatic increases in staffing in K-12 schools perhaps were warranted in 1950, does that necessarily imply public school staffing should increase forever? Are adding teachers and non-teaching staff at rates higher than increases in students a wise investment?; and (2) Is there an inherent trade-off between the number of public school staff and overall public school staff quality? When public schools hire more staff, does that require hiring less effective personnel and create more bureaucracy to burden classroom teachers? The rest of this report is organized as follows: The next two sections highlight the significant increases in public school staffing in the United States as a whole and the corresponding lack of increases in student achievement. Next, the report considers and--based on the historical data--rejects the claim the federal No Child Left Behind law is responsible for rises in public school staffing, especially among non-teaching personnel. Later sections contain the following: (1) To add context, the report compares public school staffing in the U.S. to countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; (2) A description--and rejection--of the argument that American public school students today are more disadvantaged than past American students; (3) An explanation of how increases in public school staffing could be harmful to student achievement; (4) Changes in staffing in the individual states and Washington, D.C., between 1992 and 2009; and (5) Thought experiments showing the significant opportunity costs that result from the rapid increase in public school employment. (Contains 7 figures, 9 tables and 34 notes.)
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Available from: Foundation for Educational Choice. One American Square Suite 2420, Indianapolis, IN 46282. Tel: 317-681-0745; Fax: 317-681-0945; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001