American schools suffer from constantly growing administrative bloat and an institutional culture that prioritizes research over teaching, two new studies have found.
In the last 20 years, the number of K-12 administrators has increased 2.3 times faster than the number of students in school, according to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Teacher employment also outpaced student growth, though not as rapidly as the administrator count did.
Over a longer period of time, the trend is even more pronounced. Administrative positions at K-12 schools increased by 700 percent since 1950 — seven times faster than the growth of student enrollment.
“The increases in public school employment since 1992 do not appear to have had any positive returns to students as measured by test scores and graduation rates,” wrote Benjamin Scafidi, a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation and associate professor at Georgia College & State University.
Evidence that such an employment surge positively impacted student achievement is scant, said Scafidi.
“The burden of proof is now on those who still want to maintain or even increase the dramatically larger staffing levels in public schools,” he wrote.
Similar problems afflict higher education, studies have shown.
“America’s universities have been taken over by a burgeoning class of administrators and staffers determined to transform colleges into top-heavy organizations run by inept bureaucrats,” wrote Benjamin Ginsberg, professor of political science at John Hopkins University and author of the book “The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters.”