High-poverty schools spend less on staff

More than 40 percent of high-poverty schools spend less on staff than low-poverty schools in the same district, concludes a federal report.

This is no surprise. High-poverty schools are staffed by teachers with less experience who are lower on the salary scale. In most districts, teachers gain transfer rights with seniority. Experienced teachers tend to move to schools with easier-to-teach students.


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  1. But, that stat makes it seem as though the teachers are fleeing the students, when, in fact, it’s usually the incompetent administrations that cause the problem.

    I’ve said it before – a good principal can MAKE an inner-city school perform, and create an environment for learning.

    What do schools do instead? Blame the teacher.
    – violence a problem? Teacher’s fault
    – kid comes in high? Teacher’s fault
    – kid is absent? Teacher’s fault
    – curriculum overpriced and bad? Too few books? Building falling down?

    All of it teacher’s fault

    • All you’re doing is passing the buck as well as ignoring the truth of teachers acting in their own interests by electing to go to a school that’s more pleasant to work in.

      A good principal can certainly make a school but who selects the principal?

      If principals aren’t being selected for their demonstrated ability to run a school that produces excellent academic results and is safe and orderly, as you’re implying, then what criteria are being used to select the principal? And why?

      Try following the chain another link.

      • Allen,
        You DO realize it’s not the teachers who select the principal, right?

        • I don’t think Allen understands the organization of schools. A teacher can only control their classroom. That’s it.

          Everything else is not under their control. The hallways, the resources, the kid’s home life, et al.

          And what is frustrating is that those areas could be affected by the principals but they are instead given a pass by – blaming the teachers.

          • Without back-up from the admins (both in-school and at the district level), teachers can’t even control their classrooms because they aren’t allowed to discipline or remove students (particularly those with a spec ed diagnosis). Some kids don’t belong in regular classrooms, period.

  2. Alexsis Kamala says:

    So why do we teach? This makes teaching sound like a dying career. How can society turn this around? How can teachers make their profession more appealing? Should they? What would happen if all teachers just quit? That’s a deep question. It’s kind of akin to what would happen if all truck drivers suddenly just quit? Hmmm, food for thought.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    “Staff”? Let’s check the admin payroll. In Michigan, many of the high-poverty schools are in high-poverty areas. High-poverty areas are concentrated in large cities run by incompetent and corrupt admins, to include the schools. In addition to needing more staff–for security and discipline if nothing else–they hire excessive admin. Jobs for the boys.
    Some years ago in our county, the school system with the poorest record, in a high-poverty area, had the highest per-pupil admin expenditure and the highest per-pupil board travel expenditure.
    If you could fix this, there’d be more money for the teachers.

    • Absolutely. Check out DC; a textbook case of indifference, incompetence, bloat, waste and outright corruption. DCPS has been run as a jobs program for adults (does anyone really think that universal preschool would be any different?) and the student achievement has been mostly dismal. Its per-pupil spending is outrageous and its accounting practices have been slipshod, at best. The teachers’ union has been no better; a former president was indicted for embezzlement – I think over a $1M.

      • Stacy in NJ says:

        Yes, for high poverty areas in particular, schools are seen as a jobs source, whether urban or rural. Rural areas typically have a diminished tax base so the bloat is less pronounced. Just more pigs at the government troth poorly serving their communites.

  4. In Houston, we’re getting beat up by local paper pretty badly over this report. The primary gist is that when teacher salaries are included the Title I schools appear under-funded.

    So what we know, is that after 3-5 years as a teacher, very few will want to stay in low performing schools. Okay, that’s actually factual data.

    But this same paper wrote stories of 3 award winning middle school science teachers who agreed to accept 15-25000 in bonuses. If I remember correctly, one left the district, one retired as soon as she was eligible, and the last one went to graduate school.

    And they couldn’t make the connection?

    It appears that researchers have a dearth of common sense.

  5. Sorry, the bonuses were for accepting a teaching assignment to a Title I school that had failed ratings in science. All of the teachers were highly regarded, Teacher of the Year, best Science Fairs, etc. The intent was to put the best and brightest teachers in the classrooms in order to turn around the state’s ratings.

    Like I said, didn’t work too well. They only lasted one year of a two year project.