A couple of weeks ago EIA posted the K-12 enrollment, spending and staffing numbers for 2008-09, noting an additional 81,000 teachers were hired despite an enrollment drop of 157,000 students. This occurred while the nation was in the midst of a recession, though some argued that public education would also feel the pain after a short lag.
The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics has updated its Common Core of Data to include last year’s workforce numbers, and they show – for the first time in ages – a decline in the number of K-12 full-time equivalent classroom teachers. But it’s difficult to connect these modest figures with the stories of overcrowded classrooms, devastated schools, and other tales of woe that accompanied the edujobs debate last summer.
I’ll post the full details in Monday’s communiqué, but the broad picture is this:
* 30,500 fewer teachers due to all causes – layoffs, retirements and resignations – a reduction of 0.95%
* More than half of these were in one state – California
* 23 states plus the District of Columbia actually hired more teachers – in places like Illinois, Texas and Utah significantly more
Reasonable people can disagree about the necessity of creating or saving jobs in public education, but hiring 81,000 people one year and laying off 31,000 the next is the hallmark of a system in which there is no direct relationship between the size of the workforce and the mission it undertakes. This is a disservice not only to parents, taxpayers and students, but to the teachers themselves.