23rd 2010
Colorado Ranks #5 in Non-Teaching School Employees Per Student

Posted under Research & School Finance & Teachers

So this morning I ran across an interesting posting from Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner, based on a little research “to see which states have the public school districts with the most top-heavy bureaucracies.” As Tapscott explains, he took U.S. Census Bureau data to build a table and find out which states have the most “non-instructional employees” as a share of the state’s population.

Who qualifies as a “non-instructional employee”? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, anyone who works for a K-12 public school but does NOT have one of the following positions:

[C]lassroom teachers, principals, supervisors of instruction, librarians, teacher aides, library aides, and guidance and psychological personnel.

Anyway, here are the top 10 states with the highest per capita ratios of “non-instructional employees”:

  1. Wyoming
  2. Kentucky
  3. Kansas
  4. Iowa
  5. Colorado
  6. Minnesota
  7. Indiana
  8. Missouri
  9. Arkansas
  10. Vermont

Number 5? Not exactly great news for Colorado. The Census Bureau says that in the 2006-07 school year, for every 100 people living in our state we had nearly 1 non-teacher working for the public school system. Only four states had a higher ratio. What Tapscott did was interesting, but then I thought maybe we should divide by the number of students enrolled rather than the number of people living in the state. Well, guess what? You get a very similar list:

  1. Wyoming
  2. Kentucky
  3. Kansas
  4. Iowa
  5. Colorado
  6. Missouri
  7. Vermont
  8. Minnesota
  9. West Virginia
  10. South Dakota

Colorado K-12 public schools had one “non-instructional” employee for every 16.37 students enrolled in 2006-07. That adds a little perspective to the recent layoffs in some Colorado school districts that have not yet been quantified.

While this exercise is interesting, it’s not foolproof. It appears that the Census Bureau data is somewhat incomplete. Three states and the District of Columbia report having zero non-instructional K-12 employees — which is impossible — while five or six other states have numbers that look unreasonably small.

But in any case, this small exhibit raises further questions about the Education Jobs bailout recently passed by Congress.

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