By Daniel J. Mitchell
“We need school choice so that competitive pressure rewards the best teachers as part of a system that focuses on better results for students…”
Whenever I’m asked to give an example of a powerful and persuasive visual, I always have an easy answer.
The late Andrew Coulson created a very compelling chart showing that huge increases in money and staff for government schools have not led to improvements in educational outcomes.
All rational people who look at that image surely will understand that we’re doing something wrong.
And if they review the academic evidence on government spending and educational results, they’ll definitely know we’re doing something wrong.
The international data, by the way, tells the same story. Which is especially disheartening since Americans taxpayers spend much more on education than their counterparts in other developed nations.
Let’s further investigate this issue.
I came across a 2017 tweet from Mark Perry that gives us another way of looking at the numbers.
He reviewed 64 years of data and found that government spending on education soared by 368 percent. And that’s after adjusting for inflation.
We got more teachers with all that money, but the main outcome was a massive expansion in the number of education administrators and other bureaucrats.
Additional Money Isn’t Being Used for Classroom Instruction
The numbers seems to get worse every year. In a recent article for Education Next, Ira Stoll uses two different data sets to document the growth of bureaucracy.
Here is some of the data he got from the Department of Labor.
Here’s his table based on numbers from the Department of Education.
In each case, we see bureaucrats have been the biggest winners. There are a lot more of them than there used to be, and they enjoy lavish compensation packages.
Cory DeAngelis of Reason summarized Stoll’s findings in a pair of tweets.
Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute explains that all this additional funding and additional bureaucracy is not yielding worthwhile results.
The Moral of the Story
I don’t need to write anything because this article in National Review by Cameron Hilditch has a very apt summary.
While this column has mostly focused on the ever-expanding number of administrators and other education bureaucrats, as well as their lavish salaries, it’s worth noting that compensation for teachers also has been going up.
The real problem is not teacher pay. Some deserve more pay, some deserve less pay, and some deserve to be fired, but we can’t separate the wheat from the chaff because teacher unions and local politicians have created an inefficient system that delivers mediocrity.
We need school choice so that competitive pressure rewards the best teachers as part of a system that focuses on better results for students.
Originally published by the American Institute for Economic Research. Republished with permission under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.