We have written very frequently in the past about Kentucky’s very abnormal and low ratio of teachers to other staffers in our public school system (such as here, here and here, to cite only a few examples).
The problem is that when other staff members bloat up the manning in a school, teachers’ salaries inevitably suffer.
Recently released data in the latest Digest of Education Statistics for 2016 allow us to update our ranking graph for teacher staffing in Kentucky versus other states’ and Washington, DC’s schools.
As you can see in the graph below, we have not improved the situation.
In fact, 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 and we ranked No. 43 for our staffing ratio. As of the latest data for 2014, Kentucky’s teacher-to-other-school-staff ratio shrank to only 42.8 percent.
Thus, as of 2014, Kentucky now ranks No. 49 for its very low teacher-to-total-school-staff ratio — a ranking virtually unchanged 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 in Kentucky’s public schools are instructional aides, who also are called teachers’ aides.
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.”
The report in its recommendations for a comprehensive school reform model suggests not using aides.
If we want to increase teachers’ salaries in Kentucky, a good place to start would be to examine how we are manning our schools and if we are getting any bang for the buck from all those non-teacher people who now comprise the majority of our public school staffing.
Meanwhile, so long as Kentucky populates the bottom of the national teacher-to-total-school-staff picture, our teachers can anticipate a continuation of the salary situation pretty much as it is today.