NEPC Review: The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America’s Public Schools
The School Staffing Surge finds that between 1992 and 2009, the number of full-time equivalent school employees grew 2.3 times faster than the increase in students over the same period. The report claims that despite these staffing and related spending increases, there has been no progress on test scores or drop-out reductions. The solution, therefore, is school choice. However, the report fails to adequately address the fact that achievement scores and drop-out rates have actually improved. If the report had explored the causes and consequences of the faster employment growth, it could have made an important contribution. However, it does not do so. Unless we know the duties and responsibilities of the new employees, any assertion about the effects of hiring them is merely speculative. Further, the report’s recommendations are problematic in its uncritical presentation of school choice as a solution to financial and staffing increases. The report presents no evidence that school choice - whose record on improving educational outcomes and efficacy is mixed - will resolve this “problem.” The report's advocacy of private school vouchers and school choice seem even odder given that private schools have smaller class sizes and charter schools appear to allocate a substantially greater portion of their spending on administrative costs—two of the main policies attacked in the report.