For the past twenty years school administrations have been growing in number at a rate 2.3 times faster than the growth of the student body. Going back even further, the number of administrative positions in schools since the 1950’s has increased 700%, 7 times faster than student growth, according to the study by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. This trend of administration growth happened alongside the decline in the quality of American education, and American students becoming less competitive with many foreign students. All put together, it seems to corroborate what the documentary “The Cartel” points out, that public education has become a cash cow and power mechanism for unions and public employees.
The same study found no evidence of a benefit to students from the increased size of the administration, and although not necessarily a cause, administrations expanded as student performance declined. This is because teachers’ unions funnel money into politicians who make it harder for Charter schools and school choice to become viable options, despite their positive track records. The increased funding these politicians then give to the schools is used for political positions in the administration; rewards given to the people who supported the right candidate, or participated in the right union. This is why more money is spent, more teachers are hired, way more administrators exist, and American kids are getting dumber, as evidenced by “test scores and graduation rates”. And even graduation rates can be misleading; one employer only required a high school diploma, and that an applicant pass an 8th grade test to be hired. It took him 1,300 applicants before filling 130 positions. It is not about education for many of these administrators and unions, it is about money and political power.
A similar trend can be seen in colleges, where more professors, taking on smaller workloads has in part led to the surge in college tuition prices. “The study found a 25 percent decline in the number of classes each professor taught between 1988 and 2004. Dr. Andrew Gillen, the study’s author, estimated that more than 80 percent of tuition increases at public research universities could have been prevented if universities simply maintained the same course load for instructors”. Being a professor at many schools has become a cushy political job, where as long as you say the right things, indoctrinate students correctly, and donate to the right politicians, tenure is just a matter of time. The study concluded that a shift from focusing on teaching, toward focusing on research, is part of what led to the college professor growth rate. This is because research is seen as more respectable, and makes professors more money.
‘“It is not just the case that good research is rewarded while good teaching is ignored — at some institutions, the rather shocking reality is that teaching is actively punished,” wrote Gillen.’
School voucher and school choice programs seem to be the best way to reclaim the k-12 education of our kids. Competition between schools to attract students will improve the quality of education, and help reduce needless administrative positions. Also, reducing the power of the unions (who protect bad teachers, and stop merit based pay) could lead to improvements in k-12 education for no extra cost. It is not enough to throw money at a problem, as we have seen it does not help in this situation, it just contributes to the power dynamic of public schools. This is why the aforementioned documentary is correct in labeling the unions and public schools, a cartel.