Relativity and Its Effect on Education Staffing Levels

April 8, 2013

1) Relativity and Its Effect on Education Staffing Levels. Don’t worry. This isn’t going to be a treatise of any sort. It’s just that the March 2013 Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has bad news not just for the U.S. economy in general, but for education employees specifically. Most of these workers, including most K-12 public school teachers, fall under the BLS category of “Local government, education.” That sector lost 2,000 jobs in March, and 24,200 jobs since March 2012.

It continues an interrupted downward trend in the public education workforce since its peak of more than 8.1 million employees in July 2008, as depicted by this simple graph.

blsgrapha

That’s a 4.4 percent drop in about five years. While that’s a hardship on everyone involved, it only took the four previous years – from June 2004 to July 2008 – to add those jobs to the public education workforce.

If we take the extreme long view, this decline is hard to notice. The BLS statistics go back to 1955, and this is what staffing looks like over the entire 58-year period.

blsgraph

The staffing numbers for 1955 would obviously be inadequate for the student population of 2013. The same for 1985. But since desires are infinite, and resources are finite, how are we so certain that the staffing levels of 2008 were an optimal use of funding?

The economy will eventually improve. Tax revenues will grow, and lawmakers will find ways to spend them. The pressure will be on to restore staffing to pre-recession levels. Before that becomes mired in the usual political wars, wouldn’t this be a good opportunity to ask why?

2) Last Week’s Intercepts. EIA’s daily blog, Intercepts, covered these topics April 2-8:

*  The Less-Than-One-Percenters. How small does a rally have to get before it’s downgraded to “get-together.”

Rhee-actionaries. How lefties deal with racism in the ranks.

How Slow Can You Go? Cut to the Chase.

*  New Argument Against Vouchers: Your Kid Might Have to Ride the Bus. Whatever works.

There’s No App For That. Low data plan.

3) Quote of the Week. “Money for implementing the new Common Core State Standards and adult education would also be part of the new formula and decided at the local level. That, quite honestly is unacceptable. And CTA has had those conversations with the governor. There must also be accountability provisions in this funding proposal to ensure districts spend the money the way they are supposed to in order to meet student needs. It will be important for educators to get involved and have a say in these local issues, which is why we are recommending that local chapters not rush into settlements between now and when the revised state budget comes out in May.” – Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, in an April 6 speech to the union’s State Council.