Free Markets, Free People


Do we need “more teachers?”

The latest little dust up is about President Obama claiming we need to hire more teachers (i.e. we need more government jobs) and the Romney campaign saying we really don’t. Who is right?

Former Gov. John Sununu steps in with the following:

Former New Hampshire Gov. John H. Sununu, a surrogate for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, defended the presumptive Republican nominee’s comments that the nation should have fewer teachers, firefighters and police officers, saying there was "wisdom" in Romney’s remarks.

"There are municipalities, there are states where there is flight of population, and as the population goes down, you need fewer teachers. As technology contributes to community security and dealing with issues that firefighters have to issue, you would hope that you can as a taxpayer see the benefits of the efficiency in personnel you can get out of that," Sununu said during an interview on MSNBC’s "Jansing & Co." Monday, prefacing that he was speaking "as a taxpayer" and not a representative of the Romney campaign. "There may be others who run away from those comments, but I’m going to tell you that there are places where just pumping money in to add to the public payroll is not what the taxpayers of this country want."

So do we or don’t we need more teachers?  That should be fairly easy to determine, shouldn’t it?  And, as it turns out it is:

 

cato-percent-change-public-schools

 

Since 1970 we’ve seen a 100% increase in Public School employment and a, what, an 8% increase in Public School enrollment?

Am I missing something here?  It would seem we have a plethora of educators available.  Or at least education employees.  If they’re not educators, then my suggestion is perhaps the way to get “more teachers”, if they’re really needed, is to look at the current employee mix and reduce administrative overhead while increasing the number of teachers.  Problem solved.

That, of course, could be done without spending a dime.  And that, as Sununu points out, would certainly be satisfactory to taxpayers.  Oh, wait, teacher’s unions – yeah, not going to happen is it?.

But let’s get real about this Obama gambit – it is the usual appeal.  Whenever the Democrats want to increase the size of government, the first jobs they talk about are “teachers, firemen and cops”.  Without exception.  It is a tired old ploy that most people ought to be on too by now.

And yet we continue to see it employed and, unfortunately, it works.  The scare factor.  See the above chart if you don’t believe me.

In the case of schools, what has it given us over the years as the taxpayer has answered the inevitable appeal and thrown money at schools?

 

cato-percent-cost-schools

 

A 90% increase in cost and flatlined (and even subpar) achievement.

We don’t need more teachers.  

We need less government.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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21 Responses to Do we need “more teachers?”

  • “If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?”

  • McQ, I take a slight different tack.  We DO need more teachers.  ONE ACTUAL teacher can replace several of those idiot care-taking, indoctrination-giving, waste-of-time and youthful yearning to learning juice, FLUCKING IDIOTS who too often take up oxygen in our classrooms after getting an “education degree” at the intellectual slums.
    So.  Yeah.  More TEACHERS, please.  Cut out the dead-wood.

    • “The greatest evil is not in those sordid dens of crime that
      Dickens loved to paint. . . . It is conceived and ordered . . . in
      clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men.”– C.S. Lewis

  • “Since 1970 we’ve seen a 100% increase in Public School employment and a, what, an 8% increase in Public School employment?”  That should be 8% enrollment not employment.
    Public education is a disaster.  Vouchers for everyone and let the market sort out the number of teachers.

    • AND their compensation.  Heh.  A lot of them would FLUCKING starve to death!

  • I agree, simply throwing money at our educational process does not improve it.  A rather long study in 1999-2000, http://www.ets.org/Media/Education_Topics/pdf/prepteach.pdf, rated several different countries across several different criteria, especially related to teacher preparation.  The US is at the bottom of most of these scales, except pay—where the US is in the middle.

    Ever since I’ve been alive, there has been a battle between liberals and conservatives about how much to pay teachers.  And for decades, conservatives have won the short-term battle—usually defaulting to the lower pay option (because, as Rush Limbaugh puts it, ‘teachers don’t add anything to the production of a product’).  With the advent of teachers’ unions, however, began to win more battles, and their salaries began to increase.

    To improve America’s world ranking in reading, math, and science skills—which is now between 15th or 20th, depending on the source—we need to focus on something other than more or less teachers, larger or smaller class sizes, or more or less pay (because these are not consistent variables of success).   We have to stop focusing on our monetary basis of reality, accompanied by our insane obsession with anti-intellectualism and anti-scientism—whether it concerns global warming or evolution.  (Leave Christianity in the home and the mind of its believers.)
    If we could give education and educators the preeminence it deserves, you might be surprised at how our education system would improve—and how little it might cost.

    • We have to stop focusing on our monetary basis of reality, accompanied by our insane obsession with anti-intellectualism and anti-scientism—whether it concerns global warming or evolution.  (Leave Christianity in the home and the mind of its believers.)
      What utter BS this is. This is the shit that comes from the teachers and those other dopes who could handle the major STEM courses because they were too hard.
      You have no f–king clue about anti-intellectualism and anti-scientism.

    • Man, you have all the talking points – cheap evil conservatives, pushing anti-intellectualism and anti science have caused this problem.  In a word – bullspit.   The amount of money dumped into education has risen, but the quality has not increased.   Are you going to try and claim, say,  California’s problems are because they’re teaching Christian Fundamentalism and anti-scientific doctrines, Massachusetts, New York?   Seriously?  Is your blanket big enough?

      It’s a nationwide problem and the Christians are so powerful in the Bible South that they FORCED the liberal states to teach anti-science and anti-intellectualism?    Go on, pull the other one.

    • So in a nutshell you are saying that money-obsessed unionized teachers peddling creationism and global warming has led to this state of affairs.

      • Well, when you put it that way, no, it’s probably not what he THOUGHT he was saying, but, yes, it’s what he’s saying.

    • Yes, Sweden has a voucher system that produces good results for less money. Let me know when that gets into the Democratic party platform.
      Oh, and to be honest, a big problem we have is a segment of the population thinks learning isn’t cool. I don’t know how you tackle that, but it would help as well.

  • What a moron!  You meandered ALL AROUND the solution, you dope.  MARKET FORCES.
    Oh, and nice straw-men, liar.

  • We can probably halve our current teacher number and get the same shite results

    • If you fired them randomly, yes.
      If you fired the best, say by lowering pay, then no, you would get worse results.
      If you fired the worst, by crushing union rules and adding market forces, then no, but you’d get BETTER results.

  • the %s on the right side of the 2d graph are wrong.

  • What you want is to do the following:
    1) Drop the barriers to entry, such as requiring a teaching degree.
    2) Fire under-performing teachers. Bottom quartile teachers can only teach 1/2 a year of material in one year. Top quartile teacher can teach 1.5 years materials in one year. So guess what happens to kids unlucky to get two bad math teachers in row, or maybe even 1? They struggle the next year as they are unprepared.
    3) The threat of dismissal is a very powerful incentive to do a good job. We should have that in the tool box.
    4) Pay good teachers more money, and even more money for larger classes because studies show class size is not important, thus a great teacher could teach 40 instead of 30 and do a world of good.

    All of the above are of course not allowed due to unions.

    p.s. most of this comes from a podcast with Eric Hanushek on econtalk.

    • ’2) /fire underperforming teachers’
      4) ‘Pay good teachers more money’
      First you have to have a standard to judge performance. Good luck with getting any useful standard adopted.

  • “a plethora of educators”

    /That’s the word for a bunch,like a herd of cattle or a pod of whales, right?

    You could extend those graphs back before 1970. Since WWII class sizes have shrunk, per pupil expenditures hav increased, and teacher compensation has increased. Inputs to the process have increased but output has not significantly changed. Draw your own conclusions.

  • It would be interesting to see lines for class size and the number of teachers and administrators separated.
    The cost chart should also compare something else.
    If exam scores have not changed over 40 years, then perhaps we are expecting the wrong outcome.
    Throwing more money and teachers into schools does not and will not increase test scores.

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