“The concerns about job security of the teachers attending today’s rally at the State Capitol are understandable. While no one should be completely immune from budget reductions in this tough fiscal cycle, teachers should certainly not be the first cuts – as too many school districts have proposed.
“Over the last 20 years, state spending on public education has grown two-and-a-half faster than population growth plus inflation. Between 1999 and 2009, Texas increased its per-pupil spending by 47 percent after adjusting for inflation. Texas taxpayers have generously supported public education during the good years, but now is a time when we need our schools to set careful priorities, operate more efficiently, and come up with new ideas and models to deliver quality instruction.
“Research shows that the most important factor in a student’s academic success is the quality of the teacher. But in too many cases, barely half of the money spent in public education makes it to the classroom. Texas schools employ as many non-teachers as teachers, and the non-teaching staff has grown by 76.6 percent since 1989.
“The administrative side of public education deserves serious scrutiny from teachers, parents, taxpayers, and legislators. California has 1.6 million more K-12 students than Texas, but Texas has almost twice as many school district administrators and 40 percent more ‘other support services staff.’ The salaries of central administrators have grown faster than teachers during the last 20 years, with superintendent compensation packages raising hackles in a growing number of districts.
“As the legislative session continues, it is incumbent on all of us to bring forward ideas that will help our public schools stretch their limited funds further. While we know that some reductions in classroom expenditures and personnel may need to occur, that should not even be considered before the non-instructional side of our education system gets a thorough pruning.”
James Golsan is an education policy analyst at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.
– 30 –