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August 10, 2009

1) 60,000 New Students and 20,000 New Teachers: Results from the Census Bureau School Finances Report. Each year the U.S. Census Bureau publishes a comprehensive report on public school revenues and expenditures. Figures for each of the nation's more than 14,000 school districts and local education agencies are available for dissection and digestion. The release of the latest report, Public Education Finances: 2007, was delayed for several months, but it turned out to be well worth the wait.

I will ultimately compile tables consisting of student enrollment, number of full-time equivalent K-12 teachers, per-pupil spending, amount per-pupil spent on employee compensation, and the changes in all those figures over the last five years, for every public school district in America. This, as you might imagine, will take some time, but putting together a state-level table of those statistics was quick work. I have posted the table on the EIA web site.

In the 2006-07 school year 48,441,473 students were taught by 3,142,202 full-time equivalent teachers (the NEA estimate for that year comes to 3,174,354 actual warm bodies). That was an increase of 2.7% and 5%, respectively, from the 2001-02 school year. But if you compare the numbers from the previous year, you get a better sense of where we're headed and why the current teacher layoffs are an inevitable result of years of profligate hiring.

The entire United States public school system enrolled only 60,966 more students in 2006-07, yet it hired 20,564 more teachers. Twenty-six states showed a decline in student enrollment, but only 14 had fewer teachers than the year before.

With more payroll chasing a flattening number of students, it's no surprise to discover that per-pupil spending rose a healthy 5.8% in 2006-07, and the amount spent on employee salaries and benefits increased 5.9%. The nation's public school employee compensation bill came to $382.5 billion.

The United States average for per-pupil spending was $9,666 and 16 states spent more than $10,000 per student. It bears mentioning that while the California Teachers Association spent much of the year complaining the state was ranked 47th in education spending, the Census Bureau figures show California ranked 22nd, at $9,152. That was a 7.8% increase from the previous year.

The district-level numbers are sure to provide more fascinating numbers, but I've already discovered something that leaves me speechless: In 2006-07 it would have been cheaper to take the 4,257 students in the Asbury Park and Hoboken City school districts in New Jersey and enroll them all in Sidwell Friends.

2) Under the Radar. These three stories deserve a little more attention:

* Stephen Sawchuk of Teacher Beat demonstrates why data examination is important – not for teachers and student achievement in this case, but to evaluate the famed Toledo peer review program.

* A rare bit of good news for the Indiana State Teachers Association – a federal judge tossed a class action lawsuit alleging the union conspired with MetLife "to rig retirement options in the insurer's favor."

* The California Teachers Association holds an annual summer institute for political activists and this year put together a media panel consisting of reporters and editors from Los Angeles area TV, radio and print. It's not unusual for journalists to participate in such panels, but everyone, including the panelists, should be aware of how CTA promoted it:

"Los Angeles-area newspaper, TV and radio reporters and editors will share their tips for getting your chapter stories, rallies, protests, cutback news conferences and contract fights covered."

"Here's your chance to share your stories and concerns, as well as to build relationships with reporters who are looking for sources to tell education's story."

3) Contract Hits. Wherein we highlight a contract provision from the current agreement between the National Education Association and its largest staff union. This is Article 23, Part D, Section 1, subsection (a):

"NEA shall give all due consideration to requests for transfer for either physical and/or mental health of employees."

4) Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from August 3-10:

* NEA Bailout Equals $50 Per Member of Indiana Affiliate. Evidently this wasn't worth telling the NEA convention delegates about.

* Data Link Stink Mounting in California. Will the CTA tail wag the NEA dog?

* Detroit Takes Cradle to Grave Health Care One Step Further. Here's a shot of some Detroit Public Schools employees heading to see their preferred provider.

* Three to Scrutinize. The best of the rest.

* Stay Tuned. What's up.

5) Quote of the Week. "When you have senators and everyone else attacking public education, the public goes with the attack and teachers feel the frustration and lack of respect. Therefore without the incentive to stay in the classroom of a pay increase or seeing the support there in the public with our politicians, they just opt to retire. And teaching is a difficult job under the best of circumstances, and when you face constant criticism and attacks, it makes it that much more difficult." – West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee. Last year at this time, about 860 teachers (out of 24,000) had announced plans to retire. This year, it's "about 100 more." (August 6 Charleston Daily Mail)

 

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