Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More Teachers for Fewer Students

Public school student enrollment has fallen in recent years because of the growth of homeschooling, private schools and charter schools, but the public schools have steadily hired more teachers and staff. A recent report found that New York public schools added 15,000 teachers between 2000 and 2009, despite losing 121,000 students.

Teachers unions say adding teachers is a good thing because fewer students per class improves learning, but there is no convincing evidence that smaller classes produce smarter kids. Many of us oldtimers were in classes of up to 50 kids in one room. What is certain is that hiring more teachers really benefits the unions because they get more dues-paying members.

We are not just picking on New York. Between 2001 and 2007, 12 states had declining enrollments while expanding staff for teaching and administration. In another half-dozen states, the number of teachers hired was simply not justified. Student enrollment grew by 9% in North Carolina, but the number of teachers rose by 22%; Virginia’s enrollment went up by 5%, but 21% more teachers were added. Florida had a 6% growth in students, but hired 20% more teachers. There really ought to be some relationship between hiring personnel and the needs of the students. That's all the more important as states find that they have shrinking budgets. Nevertheless, unions are fighting hard to maintain and increase their membership. The president of the American Federation of Teachers wrote in the Wall Street Journal that he is asking Congress for a $23 billion federal bailout to “avert educational and economic disaster.”

The American people want the schools to teach reading, writing, and 'rithmetic and accurate U.S. history instead of left-wing and so-called "social justice" propaganda that is taught in so many public schools today. And we certainly don't want Congress to vote any more bailouts.

Listen to this commentary:

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