The brand-new Digest of Education Statistics 2018 just rolled off the press, and Table 213.40 in that publication allows me to update one of BIPPS’ longest-running education statistics – the comparison of the teachers to other staff ratio in Kentucky’s public schools to the ratios in the other 49 states and the District of Columbia.
As has always been the case (with the exception of 1996, which probably had inaccurate data posted), Kentucky’s teachers to other staff ratio ranks among the very worst in the nation, as this updated graph shows.
Since teachers are at the scene of the action where education is concerned, it is clear Kentucky has a very poor “tooth to tail” ratio in this critical education area.
This isn’t news, of course. We’ve written very frequently in the past about Kentucky’s abnormally low ratio of teachers to other staffers in our public school system (such as here, here and here, to cite only a few examples).
Naturally, when other staff members bloat up manning in a school, teachers’ salaries suffer.
Consider this: Back in 1989, the year before Kentucky’s education reform act was passed, teachers in Kentucky’s public schools made up 50.1 percent of the entire school staffing though we still only ranked No. 43 for our staffing ratio. As of the latest data for 2016, Kentucky’s teacher-to-other-school-staff ratio has decayed even further to only 43.0 percent.
As of 2016, that 43.0 percent teacher to other staff ration ranks Kentucky No. 48 for its very low teacher-to-total-school-staff ratio — a ranking the graph shows hasn’t changed much since the early 1990s. And, that has bad implications both for teachers’ salaries and educational performance, too.
Who comprises the non-teacher staff? The Digest of Education Statistics 2012 says on Page 64:
“All other public school staff” includes administrative staff, principals, librarians, guidance counselors, secretaries, custodial staff, food service workers, school bus drivers, and other professional and nonprofessional staff.”
This same page also says:
“Two staff categories increased more than 100 percent between 1980 and 2010—instructional aides, which rose 125 percent, and instruction coordinators, which rose 237 percent.”
It’s been reported that many of the other staff members in Kentucky’s public schools are instructional aides, who also are called teachers’ aides. However, research indicates there isn’t much of a correlation between having more aides and a stronger education system. A report prepared for the Kentucky Department of Education in 2003, “A State-Of-The-Art Approach To School Finance Adequacy In Kentucky,” discusses the educational contribution of aides on Page 21, saying “research generally shows they do not add value.”
That report in its recommendations for a comprehensive school reform model suggests not using aides.
So, if we want to increase teachers’ salaries in Kentucky, a good place to start would be to examine how we are staffing our schools and if we are getting suitable bang for the buck from all those non-teacher people who now make up the majority of all staffers in the Bluegrass State’s public schools.