‘Too much of the public education dollars don’t make it to the people who are on the front lines, the classroom teachers’
CN|2’s Ryan Alessi recently interviewed James Comer (R), Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture, about budget issues in the now open Kentucky legislative session, and Comer was quick to point to a major push for funding changes in education.
However, Comer didn’t call for more revenue. Instead, he pointed out that a lot of our education dollars never reach it to the classroom, or to teachers’ wallets, either. Comer thinks we should be able to raise teachers’ salaries by getting some of Kentucky’s excessive education overhead costs under better control.
I think Comer is on to something. The Bluegrass Institute has pointed out for years that Kentucky has one of the worst ratios of teachers to other school staff of any state in the country. And, the situation has deteriorated since the early days of KERA.
Back in 1989, prior to the enactment of KERA, Kentucky already had staff bloat problems. Still, teachers comprised just over 50 percent of all the staff in Kentucky’s public schools, and we ranked as the 43 worst for staff bloat. Flash forward to the most recently available data for 2010, and Kentucky’s teachers only comprised 42 percent of the staffing in our schools, and our rank for staff bloat sank even further to 49th place out of the 50 states plus Washington, DC schools.
Could we reduce some of that non-teaching staff and use the money to increase teachers’ pay?