Half of school staff aren’t teachers

Half of school employees aren’t teachers, reports The Hidden Half: School Employees Who Don’t Teach.

The U.S. spends a much larger percentage of education funding on non-teaching staff than other countries, more than double the spending in Korea and Finland.

Teacher aides represent the largest growth category over the last 40 years. “From 1970 to 2010, aides went from nearly non-existent to the largest individual staff position, outside of teachers,” according to the Fordham report.

Teacher aides have little, if any, positive effect on students’ academic achievement,” concludes an analysis of Tennessee’s Project STAR. Decreasing class size to 14 to 17 students in the early grades raised achievement significantly, especially for black students.

School staffing has increased by nearly 400 percent since 1950. Much of the growth occurred from 1970 to 1980. “Passage of several pieces of federal legislation — such as Section 504, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, and Title IX (Equal Opportunity in Education Act) — likely played a big part in changing the makeup of schools.”

Aides often are hired to work with special ed or English Learner students. That is, the adult with the least training works with the kids with the most needs.

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  1. The ever-increasing federal role has spawned a corresponding flood of paperwork and the staff to deal with it – and little to show for it. The in-school and central-office bureaucracies have exploded; again, with little academic improvement to show for it.

    Years ago, I remember reading a comparison of the DC Public Schools central-office staff with that of the Baltimore Archdiocese, which had the same student enrollment. The Archdiocese office had something like 15 people and DCPS had almost 1400. Schools are now seen as jobs programs and they keep their supportive politicians in office.

  2. Mike in Texas says:

    Well who needs secretaries, receptionist, technical staff, janitors bus drivers, nurses and cafeteria workers?

    • Only someone being crushed under the burden of working six and a half hours per day for 180 days per year, that’s who!

      • Mike in Texas says:

        Yeah, I’m sure you believe that since we both know you’re allergic to facts.

        • So which one isn’t a fact? That you work six and a half hours a day or that you work 180 days a year?

          And since you’ve expressed an interest in my health it’s whining self-pity and clumsy prevarication that makes my eyes water.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      The mix I found for one of the schools in my local public district is here: http://d-edreckoning.blogspot.com/2006/08/lets-run-numbers.html (down in the comments)

      It includes what you mention, but other jobs too. And the Junior high I attended didn’t have a nurse 🙂

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        Ah, whatever happened to Ken DeRosa? I used to read d-ed reckoning all the time, and then it stopped without a good-bye.

        (I see I have one of the last comments, an “Amen” to a previous comment, “I’ll also note that other ways of attracting talent en masse in a capitalistic society is to offer better working conditions. Which can mean physical facilities, and which can mean a job where you feel like you’re accomplishing something.” Which made me think of Joanne’s recent, “Why Teachers Quit: Working Conditions.”)

        • Mike in Texas says:

          My school currently only has 1 restroom available for all the staff. Our 1 other restroom, which has been a stinkhole for years, currently has no toilet. I think that would qualify as a “needs improvement” in the area of working conditions.

          Of course, the offices at our school has 2 working bathrooms, but since those offices are almost always locked we can’t use them.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            Are you not allowed to use student bathrooms? Or are they also “stinkholes”? In either case, change is needed.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            Using student restrooms would not be wise especially when the kids are in the building. Might give Campbell Brown a tingling feeling.
            (Also, do these rooms have facilities for bathing?)

        • palisadesk says:

          I miss Ken De Rosa. I tried submitting a comment or two not long after he stopped posting but they didn’t make in onto the site, so I think he has disabled discussion. Glad he has left the blog there though there are some gems. I suspect, like a lot of people, he gave up on fighting the system and moved on.

  3. PhillipMarlowe says:

    “Teacher aides have little, if any, positive effect on students’ academic achievement,” –

    No surprise there. Most aides that I have encountered are not trained in any strategies. Most are just high school graduates.
    The public school Andrew Rotherham sends his children to does it right.
    The class size is capped at 20 and there are two college educated adults in each classroom.

    • That school operates on a year-round schedule, which I think we can all agree is a “reform” that almost every teacher would embrace with alacrity, right?

      • PhillipMarlowe says:

        Will each teacher have a college educated aide?
        Would the year-round be mandated for those kids/schools who don’t need it?

  4. Mike in Texas says:


    The urinals are uncomfortably low. I can’t seem to squat and aim at the same time.

  5. The aides do add up. Sons 5th grade had 8 adults in the room…6 paras, 2 certified teachers. Then a specialist joined the group for part of the day, for math or LA. Add the ot, the pt, the janitor, the person who does removal procedures…it adds up fast. I really dont see how this is cheaper than selfcontained.

    Around here the school is spending 7k per student per school year on nonspecial needs, 23k for special needs including ld.