Other people’s money to hire teachers (and administrators)

Vice President Joe Biden went to York, Pennsylvania to sell the teacher stimulus to fourth graders, notes Mark Steyn. Biden told the kids that York is broke, but the federal government can send money to hire teachers.

Public school employment has increased 10 times faster than enrollment since 1970, Steyn writes.

In 2008, the United States spent more per student on K-12 education than any other developed nation except Switzerland – and at least the Swiss have something to show for it. In 2008, York City School District spent $12,691 per pupil – or about a third more than the Swiss. Slovakia’s total per student cost is less than York City’s current per student deficit – and the Slovak kids beat the United States at mathematics, which may explain why their budget arithmetic still has a passing acquaintanceship with reality. As in so many other areas of American life, the problem is not the lack of money but the fact that so much of the money is utterly wasted.

York schools employed 440 teachers and 295 administrative and support staff in 2006 (the most recent data available), Steyn writes.

For every three teachers we “put back in the classroom,” we need to hire two bureaucrats to put back in the bureaucracy to fill in the paperwork to access the federal funds to put teachers back in the classroom.

 . . . when a nation of 300 million people presumes to determine grade-school hiring and almost everything else through an ever more centralized bureaucracy, you’re setting yourself up for waste on a scale unknown to history.

The teacher jobs bill doesn’t have unified Democratic support or any Republican support, so it’s not going to happen.