The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

19 December 2004

Your tax dollars at work

"It takes more and more people," wrote C. Northcote Parkinson, "to accomplish less and less." What does this mean in Real Life? Steve Gigl looks at his old grade school:

[W]hen I went to school there, there were 2 kindergarten teachers, and I think 2 teachers from every other grade. We had a principal (I don’t remember an assistant principal), I think there might have been a nurse, and we had a gym teacher as well. There may have been other support personnel, but I was not aware of it.

But now? They have 3 teachers at each grade, which means there are 18 class teachers, along with art, music, 2 gym teachers, gifted and talented, 2 reading teachers, and a math "coach." Ignoring the fact that the latter 3 seem to be redundant considering the fact that reading and math are classroom subjects, we’ll add it all up and say there are 27 teachers and one principal.

But there are 13 faculty members unaccounted for. 13? What do they do? Well, there is/are:

  • 1 early childhood expert
  • 2 learning disabilities experts
  • 2 emotional disabilities experts
  • 1 occupational therapist
  • 3 speech pathologists
  • 1 physical therapist
  • 1 social worker
  • 1 psychologist
  • 1 guidance counselor

And, for all we know, a partridge in a pear tree. Those positions aren't all staffed full-time: the Occupational Therapist, for instance, divides her time among three schools in the district.

To me, this seemed like a lot of people to run a single school, so I checked into the school nearest to me, a school generally well-regarded in this district, and there's pretty much the same complement of positions, plus, owing to the ethnic makeup of the area in which I live, two bilingual assistants.

I guess this is how many people it takes to run a grade school these days. But I can't help wondering: is the day coming when the admirals will outnumber the ships?

Posted at 9:56 PM to Almost Yogurt

Pretty much the same situation in my school, except we employ about 35 paraprofessionals ($40/day bored mothers) to come in and do everything from run copies to wipe the kids' asses for them (uh, literally in three cases).

*Starting at the top:

1 Superintendent
1 Assistant Superintendent
1 Operations Administrator
1 Business Manager (2 Sec's)
1 Purchasing Agent (5 Sec's)
4 Pupil Personnel Services Coordinators
2 Directors of Technology
7 System-wide Coordinators
13 Media Specialists (Librarians)

We also employ 15 full-time teachers including one art, one gym, one guidance and one principal to control 40 derelicts who are incapable of behaving in the regular classroom. They get their own school building.

All this, of course, notwithstanding the fact that my own middle school building still has the same tattered drapes hanging in the classrooms that were hung when the building was opened in 1964; there are no computers in individual classrooms at the middle schools except the ones the teachers bring in for their own use, and the Mastery Test scores are still miserable.

I bet we're at the bottom of the unemployment scale, too.

*Town population approximately 35,000.

Posted by: Vickie at 7:10 AM on 20 December 2004

Astounding. This proves my theory that schools do not need more money, they need less staff.

Posted by: Babs at 7:36 AM on 20 December 2004