Second 'School Staffing Surge' Report Suffers From Same Flaws As Original
EAST LANSING, Mich. (Mar. 26, 2013) – In a follow-up to an earlier report, the Friedman Foundation recently released a second report, describing a surge in school employment unaccompanied by progress in student achievement. Again, however, the report suffers from faulty premises and inaccurate data.
Joydeep Roy reviewed the report, The School Staffing Surge, Part II, for the Think Twice think tank review project. Dr. Roy, a visiting professor at Teachers College – Columbia University and a senior economist for the New York City Independent Budget Office, prepared the review for the National Education Policy Center with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
Like the original report, Benjamin Scafidi wrote The School Staffing Surge, Part II for the Freidman Foundation for Educational Choice.
Surge I reported that between 1992 and 2009, the number of employees grew at more than twice the rate that the population of students increased. It then claimed that despite the staffing surge and related spending increases, there had been no progress in student achievement or drop-out reductions. Surge II disaggregates trends in K-12 hiring for individual states, presenting ratios comparing the number of administrators and other non-teaching staff to the number of teachers or students.
Both reports speculate about "savings" that might have been achieved if hiring had been held back. But neither report makes any serious attempt to link employment numbers to schools' needs or outcomes. Moreover, both reports "[fail] to acknowledge the fact that achievement scores and drop-out rates have steadily improved," Roy writes in his review.
He adds, "Neither the old report or this new one ... explores the causes and consequences of faster employment growth, thus severely limiting the report's potential contribution."
With no attempt to benchmark hiring against each state's needs and circumstances, the new report is once again unable to make any reasoned judgment about whether the added hiring was useful or wasteful. The result, Roy concludes, is that the new report, "much like the original one, is devoid of any serious policy implications."
Find the review on the Great Lakes Center website:
Find The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth in America's Public Schools, Part II by Benjamin Scafidi on the web:
Think Twice, a project of the National Education Policy Center, provides the public, policy makers and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible by funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.
This review is also found on the NEPC website:
The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.
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