More ‘educators,’ less education

school for scandalDec. 17, 2012

By Katy Grimes

I attended California public schools, kindergarten through college, starting in the late 1960s through the mid 1980s. While I don’t claim to have received a brilliant education, I did receive a solid liberal arts education. This is especially true when my public education is compared with today’s public education.

School decorum was more formal and professional. Girls in public school in the 1960s were required to wear dresses. Boys were required to wear slacks, corduroys or chinos and were not allowed to wear dungarees. By about 1968, girls were allowed to wear pants to school. A few years later, we were also allowed to wear athletic shoes to school.

Male teachers wore ties every day, and female teachers wore dresses. It made for a naturally more polite, civilized atmosphere, a far cry from today’s students who wear drooping jeans, or short shorts with “Juicy” on the butt. And many of the teachers’ attire is not much better.


Some of today’s kids are well on the way to reading by the time they enter school, largely due to parents who have encouraged this. But math and science in America have been an afterthought until junior high school and high school.

When I was in elementary school, we were taught the usual English, reading and math. But we also learned biology, geography, geology, astronomy, general sciences and even meteorology. We had regular music classes, art and art history classes, theater, choir, daily athletics and calisthenics, and full access to a well-stocked library.

By the time I reached junior high school, we were encouraged to take orchestra or band, auto, wood and metal shop, home economics and foreign languages. The school provided the materials in shop classes, as well as the musical instruments for band and orchestra.

We did not have to carry giant, back-breaking backpacks because we had ample lockers to store our books and supplies.

Every student participated in daily physical education class, and we were issued P.E. clothing by the school. After P.E., we showered, changed back into street clothes and went to our next class.

Today’s junior high schools use the shower areas for storage. In most such schools, there are no school bands or orchestras, no auto, wood or metal shop, no more home economics, and few foreign language classes.

High School

I attended a racially diverse high school in the late 1970s in a tough part of Sacramento. The school was run like a tight ship by the school principal, a retired military man.  There was discipline and order, despite the frequent racial, cultural and social tensions.

We had one school principal and one vice principal, one class counselor for each grade, a school nurse, a librarian and a school secretary. That’s it for the administration.

The dropout rate was close to zero. There was a stigma to being a high-school dropout.

Thirty years later, at the public high school my son attended, C.K. McClatchy High School had one principal, six vice principals — each with an assistant vice principal, many layers of administrative and secretarial workers in the office, many counselors, no nurse and a part-time librarian.

The graduation rate reported by C.K. McClatchy High School is only 57.9 percent, and per-pupil Spending is $10,051. I suspect that these numbers are lower and higher, respectively.

Why has this happened?

According to the Friedman Foundation, “[B]etween fiscal year 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent school employees grew 386 percent.

“Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.”

This is particularly difficult to stomach knowing that Gov. Jerry Brown successfully pushed so hard for Proposition 30, which will raise taxes on Californians with incomes of $250,000 or more, and a sales tax increase on everyone. Prop. 30 was sold ostensibly to raise more money for schools.

More ‘educators,’ less education

Even when student populations were dropping, public school systems were increasing staffing between 1992 and 2009. Staffing dramatically increased, but student performance did not. In fact, student performance dropped significantly for many years, the Friedman foundation reported. The percentage earning high school diplomas in recent years was below the percentage receiving diplomas in 1970.

Hiring more non-teaching personnel likely lowers the average quality of that workforce as well, the foundation found. Another concern with hiring more non-teaching staff is that it increases the school and district bureaucracy, and reduces the amount of time and energy teachers can devote to their students.

“Given the public education system’s dismal record and the positive evidence on school choice, decision- making should be decentralized so that individual parents, teachers, and educators can decide how to best organize schools,” the foundation explained.

“Perhaps the even greater accountability that would result from school choice would incent public school leaders to allocate the taxpayer resources in their care in even better ways (e.g., in hiring and retaining only the best teachers) for American students—instead of just adding more and more employees.”


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  1. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 17 December, 2012, 12:37

    School choice is nonsense and just a dog whistle for the further ideologic dismantling of education, a crown jewell of our democracy. John Adams had alot to say about this. Todays ultra right view, while certainly an overdetermined factor, is an important part of the tea baggy chaos that is wrecking our nation. Thankfully, Americans are alert to this as evidenced by our last election.

    Katy— do your common sense a favor. Look up the concept of “overdetermination”—there are many reasons we are having certain and specific problems with education. Always have–always will—– don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    And by the way—- teachers and public servants are human beings, like blog writers—- some are not so good. Many, many are heros.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ken
    Ken 17 December, 2012, 13:24

    Katy’s was a well written article and your way is simply NOT working Ted. Not even close. Not even remotely close. Didn’t you take math Ted? Go back and look at Katy’s figures. Katy is a responsible journalist Ted, are you a responsible citizen? Or a man with his head in the sand. Get off your ideological pedestal Ted and come back down to earth. You are a fool Ted. Your way is not working, whatever you think it is. You are the ideological dismantler Ted. Get a life Ted.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ken
    Ken 17 December, 2012, 13:30

    Great article Katy. Thank you for summarizing the abject MESS that is present day education and pointing out the sheer idiocy of all those worthless layers of schoolhouse bureacracy that accomplishes less than nothing. Way less. The older way was the right way, and the new educational thinkers, if they can be called thiunkers, are failing in such a overwhelming way as to imperil decades, a couople centuries maybe, of educational good sense and discipline. And before I close may I add that physical training is much more valuable than sensitivity training, which, apparently, was a course did not take, even though he seems to espouse the idiocy of our present day totally busted educational system. Ted is part of the problem and those who think like him, even if Ted is an MIT PhD. He is wrong.

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  4. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 17 December, 2012, 13:37

    ken – once you’re around here a while you will find Teddy is just our pet troll. A silly little man; a clown in a clown car.

    He is what Bob Beckel is to The Five……but without Beckel’s political savvy and sense of humor.

    Just throw him some peanuts as you pass by.

    Reply this comment
  5. Kathy
    Kathy 17 December, 2012, 13:49

    Your article fails to mention whether these new school employees are full time or part time – my guess is the latter. California does not value teachers, (as evidenced by their relatively low pay), for the considerable higher education they are required to possess. And one out of every two teachers who enters the teaching profession quits sometime within the first five years.

    I too was a child of California’s school system in the 60s-80s. Pining for the way things used to be, is a somewhat silly exercise, because the way the world used to be, no longer exists either.

    As a current K-12 Charter School principal of 100 students in rural northern California, I have one part-time secretary… that’s it. I act as a counselor, a substitute teacher, the Chief Business officer, and I file all the state reports, order all the state mandated tests, interface with my charter school board, and am occasionally the custodian, as needed on any given day.

    Charter schools are in the forefront of positive educational changes, and are actively disrupting the way school is ‘done’ in California, to the benefit of all students. Until we can get society caring more about our students, than the outcome of a world series game, we can only make small steps towards progressive gains in the field of Education for California’s future citizens and their economy.

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  6. ggswede
    ggswede 17 December, 2012, 14:18

    I can also remember that Easter break,was Easter break.And Christmas vacation was just that.Even schools had Christmas trees in the classrooms,and all the kids participated in gift exchange.Now it’s all about so-called politically correct nonsense.And history ? none is taught in elementary schools,except about the Ca. missions.By the time I reached 6th grade,I had good working knowledge about the Spanish explores,and the civil war,plus the mayflower and the bill of rights the constitution etc.Now it seems they don’t want the kids to understand that hard work and perseverance eventually pays off ? But then again,what do I know ? I’ve only raised 6 kids,and am now raising a grandson !

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  7. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 17 December, 2012, 14:30

    School choice is nonsense and just a dog whistle for the further ideologic dismantling of education, a crown jewell of our democracy.
    You did the old bait and switch, said school choice is a “dog whistle” and then said education is the “crown jewell[sic]”, yet failed to cite any reason why school choice affects education or demorcacy, one way or the other. Typical.

    Teddy, please put your Uhaul thinking cap on, and let him post, b/c that sock puppet is smarter.

    Reply this comment
  8. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 17 December, 2012, 14:34

    …your way is simply NOT working Ted. Not even close. Not even remotely close. Didn’t you take math Ted? Go back and look at Katy’s figures. Katy is a responsible journalist Ted, are you a responsible citizen? Or a man with his head in the sand. Get off your ideological pedestal Ted and come back down to earth. You are a fool Ted.
    Well said!

    Reply this comment
  9. us citizen
    us citizen 17 December, 2012, 15:12

    Katy writes quite well Ted. You see, idealism never has worked because your ideal is not necessarily other peoples ideals. But common sense works miracles. And Katy explains them pretty darned good…….:)

    Only one thing was left out. We didnt have an influx of illegals at that time. The teacher didnt have to spend time trying to teach a class where students didnt understand English. The classes were straight, forward, and concise with out all the polly ana crap. Heck we even had AP classes. Advanced placement…….and you had to take those to get into college. Some how a remedial reading class now days in college is an absolute insult to higher education and should NEVER even be considered, but lowering the bar has caused a lot of this. All of course in the good nature of being fair to those that cant pass. Dont hold little Johnny back for heavens sake. It might hurt his little ego. Dont give grades, just do pass and fail because we certainly dont want competition so that those little minds want to beat the other kid. And of course everyone gets a trophy even though they were the ones that lost the game for the rest.

    I wonder what they do when they hit the real world……..and stark reality hits them in the face. Think they ask for do overs? Oh of course not……competition hasnt been taught. Guess they go home to mommy and tell her that the world is big and cruel and how dare that boss want him to do “that”!

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  10. JLSeagull
    JLSeagull 17 December, 2012, 15:32

    California schools, like the California government, is of the unions, by the unions and for the unions. More employees = less work for each employee and more taxes for the people. So typical of government employee unions who favor quantity over quality.

    My daughter is a teacher in a (non-union) charter high school run by the school district in another CA county. They have only one vice principle, a well rounded curriculum,a vibrant program and run on a very lean budget. And, yes, they even take some of the dropouts from the other union run schools in the district and still, the graduation rate is way above 90%.

    Many unionized teachers are superb, dedicated and talented. It is unfortunate that the unions have packed the schools with so many unnecessary “administrative” personnel.

    Reply this comment
  11. LGMike
    LGMike 17 December, 2012, 16:01

    If Ted actually took the time to research any public school in California (not charter or private) he would find that the average school system has at the very minimum 2-3 employees that are in non teaching positions (and by teaching I mean in a classroom every day with students) collecting higher and higher salaries and benefits. The article mentions how much more was done with less on a full well rounded education, whereas today’s school can’t seem to even “teach basic language, math or science. Today”s educational “management” keep spending money and resources on “social services” and ideas rather than letting teachers do the job they are trained for. Time for parents to demand a better system, not a full employment for Union management or “no fire” employment for teachers or managers. Look at the numbers, for every dollar spent in a classroom there is at least 2-3 dollars for overhead and administrative.

    Reply this comment
  12. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 17 December, 2012, 17:44

    Yes LG Mike– private schools generally have a leaner overhead structure. Why don’t you get on the school board and change that?— Teddy

    Reply this comment
  13. Hondo
    Hondo 17 December, 2012, 18:17

    The highest paid teachers and staff in the country and some of the lowest test scores. 47th and 48th in math and English. The state with the most opportunity to create jobs and wealth in the country with an unemployment rate stuck above 10%. A big part of that is a poorly prepared work force.

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  14. LGMike
    LGMike 17 December, 2012, 19:39

    Ted, my point exactly. To much overhead in public schools, mostly driven by government rules and stupid regulations, in addition to unions basically controling school board and telling parents they dont know whats best. Time for you to change your union to REALLY do whats rignt for chjldren.

    Reply this comment
  15. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 17 December, 2012, 19:57

    No one is arguing with you lgmikey–there is room for improvement in public and private education.

    My point is that many of us, well, from the last election I’d say a simple majority, are tired of the ultra right whine about most issues. For instance– I bet if polled honestly, most of you tea baggy regulars complain about the same things. For instance, you all carp on gov employees. Although you cry like babies to gobble up the services. Most of you think the Constitution is going away soon. You’re mostly against the penumbral rights explained in Rhoe v. Wade. You don’t like an assault weapons ban…and on and on…….I am just thankful we live in a Country where your extreme views are in the minority.

    …just sayin little buddy!

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  16. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 17 December, 2012, 19:59

    Oh—- and lgMike—— What happened when you ran for school board?

    Oh… didn’t. I see……then blog on my man!

    Reply this comment
  17. Ginny Sand
    Ginny Sand 17 December, 2012, 21:42

    OMG, where do I begin, Ted? Are you old enough to remember when CA used to be at the top of the educational heap? Are you proud (in all-blue CA) that we are now at the bottom, just above Mississippi…with the highest paid “teachers” in the nation? Are you proud that the teachers union just stopped a bill that would’ve enabled us at least to fire criminal teachers (like the monster that blindfolded his 7-year-old students and fed them cookies with his semen on them? Instead, we had to pay him $40K just so we wouldn’t have to keep paying his pension & health care for the next thousand years.) Are you real proud of your president who just tried to kill the tiny (Republican) voucher program in D.C. (with the most violent schools w/ the highest dropout rate and the highest price tag — 28K per year — all poor blacks who for the first time were able to not only look forward to graduating from high school but going to collect — some students who were lucky enough to get the $7K vouchers were even going to Sidwell Friends where Obama’s kids go…and the teachers union threatened every Dem legislature, so every one voted to kill it. So much for Dems caring for poor blacks. Somehow funding for it wasn’t in the budget Obama came up with earlier this year — the same one that was voted down 97-0. Can you do that math, Ted? Or is that ratio too tough for you and yours? You guys have been in charge of education in this country for the last forty years — and thanks to that fact, we’re going down the tubes.
    You proud of that, Ted?

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  18. Ginny Sand
    Ginny Sand 17 December, 2012, 21:43

    Make that “going to college”, not “going to collect.” My bad.

    Reply this comment
  19. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 17 December, 2012, 22:40

    Teddy= Trough Feeder Meltdown 🙂

    Reply this comment
  20. The Ted Steele System
    The Ted Steele System 17 December, 2012, 22:51

    Rex Poodle = 0 for 14 ™!

    it’s just that easy!

    Reply this comment
  21. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 18 December, 2012, 06:33

    I have a public school teacher friend who ran for the school board in Sacramento City Unified School District. She is eminently qualified to be on the board. The AFL-CIO gave her opponent $30,000 (unheard of in a school board race), and then ran a hit campaign against her. She lost.


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  22. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 18 December, 2012, 07:43

    Kathy – Charter schools are the one shining exception, and never figured into school stats. They are not the cause of the increased spending or increase in staffing. Charter schools are proof of efficient school spending with maximum results.


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  23. Sean Morham
    Sean Morham 18 December, 2012, 08:49

    What i have heard from education administrators many times, is to “go for the money, become an administrator, there is non money in teaching.” The teachers are the heroes, these folks are bureaucrats, more in common with their counterparts in Bolivia, than with the teachers they supposedly support. Useless turds on their best day.

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  24. The Rt Rev Ted Steele
    The Rt Rev Ted Steele 18 December, 2012, 08:58

    Katy– I have a friend who won a school board election and despite meddling moronic gadfly parents, Bush’s no child left behind, and the republican teach to the test nonsense, she is doing a pretty good job!

    Can you say…”anecdotal blog nonsense”…..”sure you can”…

    Reply this comment
  25. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 18 December, 2012, 14:22

    Wrong Ted. This is happening in nearly every school district throughout California. When we talk about the need for local control at the school district level, it’s almost a moot point anymore because of the labor unions loading up the boards with union candidates. Unfortunately, your comment is now anecdotal.


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  26. Ginny Sand
    Ginny Sand 18 December, 2012, 14:55

    Ted — I noticed that you didn’t respond to anything I wrote to you. Typical. Now you’re complaining about NCLB — would that be the same legislation that was co-sponsored by Hillary Clinton & (that great manslaughterer) Ted Kennedy? And would you explain to me exactly what “teach to the test” means, and why that’s bad? Let’s see — teach material that the students are supposed to learn, go over the material and, yes, test them on that material (i.e. “teach to the test.”) Another moronic phrase that the left has cooked up and fed to a gullible public. And again — exactly what has your non-accountability gotten us other than a generation of kids that can’t read their own diplomas (if they even got one), let alone be qualified to get a job.

    Reply this comment
  27. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 19 December, 2012, 09:20

    Oh my gosh Ginny! I am so sorry! I did not see your post before! My bad!!!

    Yes— I do love and support our President. Wasn’t that a fun election! And yes– thank the lord Jesus Chris, my savior btw, that he is against vouchers! I am pretty sure Jesus would be against them too. These will set up a sad double standard. The voucher concept means sure you get some choices, which you have now already, but that you get a free ride in contributing top the education of the rest of your fellow countrymen. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had strong feelings when founding this great nation, that public education was worth the effort and pain! Call me a patriot, but I agree!

    Teach to the test has wiped out the breadth of a liberal arts education. While tests are a fun measuring device, and useful, the test only covers a small slice of the conceptual abstractions required to train a heart soul and mind. The stories of this difficulty are legion.

    Have a super duper day “Ginny”! And God Bless the tea baggers!

    Reply this comment
  28. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 19 December, 2012, 09:26

    Until you post some exact numbers about this “infiltration” you remain anecdotal.

    When you say “infiltration”– I assume you mean– elected by we the people under our glorious democratic pageant, riiiiight????

    When the tea baggers got elected to Congress a few years back, did you think that was an infiltration or a wonderful democratic statement? Hmmmmmmmm

    I think of infiltration from some memories I have from about 1968 when a few VC and NVA regulars slipped in our wire like ghosts until they hit that first claymore field……Is that kinda like the infiltration you mean?


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  29. Frank
    Frank 20 December, 2012, 17:03

    The purpose of education, as described by philosophers, is generally considered to be the reproduction of a culture. This can take several forms. In a conservative environment, it can mean the maintenance of the status quo. In a more liberal environment it means the teaching of values that are considered to be desirable. In effect, the schools serve to create a culture and mores that are not currently part of the culture but are perceived as desirable. in any case, it means that the values taught are those of the church, government, or other system that controls the schools. History tells us that totalitarian governments quickly take over the education system when they come to power. This was seen in communist countries and fascist countries alike.

    Totalitarian governments have long been advocates of total government control of education. This is quite understandable as, by their nature, totalitarian governments require control of their citizens in mental as well as physical ways.

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