Most better-informed voters know that educational outcomes in American are following a 30+year downward trend even as funding for the same dwarfs levels of long ago.

The [Milton and Rose] Friedman Institute for School Choice releases the following report that a huge fraction of educational dollars are being used to hire non-teaching administrators, accountants, and coaches.

Consider this introduction to the full report:

America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.

In a recent Heritage Foundation Backgrounder, Lindsey Burke (2012) reports that since 1970, the number of students in American public schools increased by 8 percent while the number of teachers increased 60 percent and the number of non-teaching personnel increased 138 percent.

That hiring pattern has persisted in more recent years as well. This report analyzes the rise in public school personnel relative to the increase in students since FY 1992. Analyses are provided for the nation as a whole and for each state.

Between FY 1992 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students nationwide grew 17 percent while the number of full-time equivalent school employees increased 39 percent, 2.3 times greater than the increase in students over that 18-year period. Among school personnel, teachers’ staffing numbers rose 32 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 46 percent; the growth in the number of administrators and other staff was 2.7 times that of students.

Importantly, such growth cannot be attributed to the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. During the pre-NCLB period, FY 1992 to FY 2001, public schools’ student population grew 13 percent while public education personnel rose 29 percent—a 23 percent increase for teachers and a 37 percent increase for administrators and other staff. Post-NCLB (FY 2002 to FY 2009), employment growth (7 percent) still outpaced student numbers (3 percent). Teachers and administrators increased at about the same rate of 7 percent.

The chief difference between the NCLB era and the prior time period is the trend toward increasing non-teaching staff at a rate greater than teachers was halted—with NCLB, teachers and non-teaching staff both increased at the same rate (more than twice as fast as student enrollment). In both the pre- and post-NCLB periods analyzed, overall staffing in public education grew about 2.3 times faster than the increase in students.

Compared to other nations’ schools, U.S. public schools devote significantly higher fractions of their operating budgets to non-teaching personnel—and lower portions to teachers. Meanwhile, the U.S. is one of the highest spending nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) when it comes to K-12 education.

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