In the News: At House Education Hearing, Lawmakers Differ Sharply on Why Teachers Are Underpaid

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee held a hearing on the topic “Underpaid Teachers and Crumbling Schools: How Underfunding Public Education Shortchanges America’s Students.”

As Andrew Ujifusa reports,

Democrats in control of the committee pushed Tuesday for more resources from the federal government to raise teacher pay and repair schools. But Republicans said that education spending increases have failed to adequately address these issues or to help students academically.

He continues

Republicans and Ben Scafidi, an economics professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, stressed that they appreciated teachers and that they should be paid appropriately. However, they said that despite decades of increased spending on schools in general, much of that money had paid for a sharp rise in the number of school administrators and other non-teacher staff, and not competitive salaries for those in the classroom.

Ben Scafidi was a recent guest on the Education Exchange podcast, where he talked with Paul E. Peterson about his report “Back to the Staffing Surge.”

In that report he wrote

The modern staffing surge, which began in 1992, has been expensive for taxpayers and has posed a tremendous opportunity cost on teachers and parents.

From FY 1992 to FY 2014, public schools experienced a 19 percent increase in student enrollment growth. Yet at the same time, they increased FTE staff by almost double that rate—a 36 percent increase in FTE school personnel. Continuing with a consistent decades-long pattern, public schools increased staffing primarily by hiring nonteachers. Specifically, public schools increased their FTE teacher force by 28 percent from FY 1992 to 2014 and increased the number of FTE non-teachers by 45 percent—more than double the increase in the number of students.

— Education Next

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