1) 52,000 New K-8 Students, 42,500 New K-8
Teachers. The National Education Association today released its annual
report, Rankings and Estimates: Rankings of the States 2006 and Estimates
of School Statistics 2007. You can
read the union spin here, but you already know what it is.
The report will revive the usual
back-and-forth about average teacher salaries, after which no one's mind
will be changed. And no one will note the one astonishing statistic that
greatly explains why all the revenue and expenditure numbers are where they
Teacher hiring is completely out of
Yes, believers in the eternal teacher
shortage, you read that correctly. A trend that was
obvious after last year's edition of Rankings and Estimates is
now glaring. The last of the Baby Boomers' kids are working their way
through high school and they are not being replaced. NEA estimates that K-12
enrollment grew by only 0.3 percent in 2006-07, but the demographic
implications are only clear when you separate elementary enrollment from
Grades K-8 Enrollment 2006-07=
29,758,808 (+51,958; +0.2%)
Grades 9-12 Enrollment 2006-07=
19,133,765 (+113,079; +0.6%)
Looks like we should be hiring a
greater percentage of high school teachers, right? But we're not, not even
Grades K-8 Classroom Teachers 2006-07=
1,856,567 (+42,541; +2.3%)
Grades 9-12 Classroom Teachers 2006-07=
1,317,787 (+10,175; +0.8%)
That's right. America hired 42,541
extra elementary school teachers for 51,958 extra elementary school
students. That's one extra teacher for every 1.2 extra students. This is not
a new trend, only an accelerated one. In the last 10 years, K-8 enrollment
has risen by a cumulative 4.1 percent. But the K-8 teaching forced has risen
by a cumulative 17.1 percent.
If the national picture seems insane,
consider California. NEA estimates a 48,031 student decrease in K-8
enrollment for 2006-07, but an increase of 9,284 K-8 teachers.
NEA estimates K-8 average salaries
increased 4.2 percent in 2006-07, which means we are paying a premium for
all those extra teachers. So while NEA decries the failure of average
salaries to match inflation, the fact that public school districts can so
massively increase the number of teachers at the bottom end of the scale,
while still increasing the average salary by a substantial amount, is a
testament to the ability of government to appropriate money for education.
2) Colorado Public Employees Union Hooks Up with
CWA. Organized labor in Colorado is about to become very volatile.
The dust has yet to settle from Gov. Bill Ritter's
executive order establishing "partnerships" between state agencies and labor
unions, which is clearly the prelude to public sector collective bargaining.
The plans of Colorado WINS, a coalition of SEIU, AFSCME and AFT, are in
evidence in the
new organization's founding documents, first released
exclusively by EIA on November 19.
But Colorado WINS will have some competition. The
formerly AFT-affiliated Colorado Federation of Public Employees has
dissolved and reformed itself as the Colorado Public Employee Alliance,
affiliated with the Communication Workers of America (CWA).
The national affiliation will prevent
Colorado WINS from squashing its rivals like a bug, and has the potential to
cause even more problems. The establishment of Colorado WINS is a national
agreement between two AFL-CIO unions and one Change to Win union. CWA is
also an AFL-CIO union, and a juridictional dispute such as this one is bound
to get bounced upstairs to national AFL-CIO. It could get ugly.
And while the Colorado media has
generally been pretty good on the
political ramifications of the new union role, I don't think there is a
labor reporter left in the state, so the internal union drama is largely
3) Minnesota Discovers Federalism. Some
politicians in Minnesota realized that the ghastly, horrible, soul-deadening
No Child Left Behind Act is voluntary. They plan to introduce legislation to
opt out. Apparently all you have to do is give up the woefully inadequate
federal cash. Amazing.
Why didn't I think of that?
4) Now Utah Education Association Brags
About NEA Voucher Campaign Involvement. Now that the voucher referendum
has been safely buried, the Utah Education Association is confident enough
to reveal the extent of NEA's overwhelming involvement in the financial,
strategic and operational direction of the campaign.
During the campaign
UEA greatly understated NEA's role, and NEA President Reg Weaver refused
to even discuss the national union's financial contribution to the effort.
But the December 2007 issue of
UEA Action has all the details, with dollar signs and names
attached, including an appearance by NEA front group Communities for Quality
So you can read this kind of stuff here
in August, or there in December. It's your choice.
5) Shape of Things to Come. "Elk Grove growing
fast, just like state: Fastest-growing school district runs out of
classrooms…. Elk Grove district officials predict they may need to build 26
more schools by 2010 to serve an anticipated 80,000 pupils, more than three
times as many students as in 1989." – headline and clip from
June 3, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle story.
"Enrollment drop for Elk Grove? Housing slump could
result in district's first decline ever…. Elk Grove Unified also is
struggling to fill the new Elizabeth Pinkerton Middle School and Cosumnes
Oaks High School campus. The combined campus, which can house 3,600
students, will open next fall with only 475 students, given current
boundaries." – headline from
December 6, 2007 Sacramento Bee story.
6) Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog,
Intercepts, covered these topics from December 3-10:
Sarcasm: Don't Try It at Home. A gun-toting former union president beats
the rap with the "facetious" defense.
Slowly Running Out of Affiliates. Is there a Democratic candidate left
who hasn't been endorsed by an NEA affiliate?
Sounds from NEA Headquarters. I don't know what's going on, but I'll
find out eventually.
7) Quote of the Week. "Let's hear it for facility preparedness and
adequacy! Put your hands together for kinesthetic learning and the
de-homogenization of the classroom! Save the in-age cohort!" – Washington
Post columnist Dana Milbank, mocking Hillary Clinton's speech accepting
the endorsement of NEA New Hampshire. (December 9