kitchen table math, the sequel: pop quiz, part 3

## Sunday, February 28, 2010

### pop quiz, part 3

from:
A Parent’s Guide to Education Reform (pdf file)
By Dan Lips, Jennifer Marshall, and Lindsey Burke
Heritage Foundation
p. 10

How much do American public schools spend per pupil?
American public schools spent an average of \$9,266 per pupil during the 2004–2005 school year.19

How much does the U.S. Spend on K–12 education as a nation?
The United States spent \$600 billion on K–12 education in 2006—about 4.5 percent of our gross domestic product.20

How many students are in K–12 public schools?
About 50 million students attend American public schools.21

What is the average public school teacher salary?
In 2004, the average public school teacher’s salary was \$44,400.22

Who earns a higher hourly wage—public school teachers or mechanical engineers?
Public school teachers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers earned \$34.06 per hour in 2005. BLS estimates that mechanical engineers earn \$31.93 per hour.23

What percentage of public education funding is spent on classroom expenditures?
61 cents out of every dollar currently spent in American public schools is for instruction.24

What is the average class size in American public schools?
There are 16 students for each teacher in the average public school.25

What percentage of all public school staff are non-teaching employees or administrators?
Non-teaching employees and administrators account for 49 percent of all public school staff.26

What percentage of government funding for education comes from the state, federal, and local governments?
46.9 percent of public school revenue comes from state government. 44 percent of funding comes from local government. Only 9.2 percent comes from the federal government.27

26 percent of 8th grade students scored “below basic” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading exam.28

What is the percentage of American adults who are illiterate?
The U.S. Department of Education’s 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that 14 percent of American adults scored “below basic” in literacy, meaning that they could not perform simple everyday tasks that required reading or writing.29

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19 U.S. Department of Education, Digest of Education Statistics: 2007, Table 171, at http://www.nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_171.asp?referrer=list.
20 Ibid., Table 25, at http://www.nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_025.asp?referrer=list.
21 Ibid., Table 33, at http://www.nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_033.asp?referrer=list.
22 Ibid., Table 72, at http://www.nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_072.asp?referrer=list.
23 Jay P. Greene and Marcus Winters, “How Much Are Public School Teachers Paid?” Manhattan Institute Civic Report No. 50, January 2007, at http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_50.htm.
24 Author calculations based on average spending on instruction divided by total current expenditures. U.S. Department of Education, Digest of Education Statistics: 2007, Table 172, at http://www.nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_172.asp?referrer=list.
25 Ibid., Table 60, at http://www.nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_060.asp?referrer=list.
26 Ibid., Table 80 at http://www.nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_080.asp?referrer=list.
27 Ibid., Table 162, at http://www.nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_162.asp?referrer=list.
28 U.S. Department of Education, Reading Report Card, 2005.
29 U.S. Department of Education, NCES, “2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy,” at http://nces.ed.gov/naal/index.asp.

Genevieve said...

I want to know where the classrooms of 16 students are. The only time I was in a class that small was because very few students attended first period English (they were all in band or orchestra). I haven't seen elementary classes that small.

Cranberry said...

"What is the average class size in American public schools? There are 16 students for each teacher in the average public school."

That doesn't mean the average class size is 16. There are curriculum coordinators who are teachers, but don't teach a class regularly. Our elementary school has a low student/teacher ratio on paper, but a large percentage of the teachers are SPED personnel. They may work one-on-one with a student, or team teach with other teachers, but it isn't the same as a class of 16 students with one teacher.

Class sizes vary widely, and are quite different from student:teacher ratios. Student:teacher ratios are calculated by comparing the total student enrolment to the total teaching staff. However, this is misleading in a number of ways.
-- some districts include principals and assistant principals in this calculation, but it is rare for either to have classroom teaching duties.
-- specialist teachers who do not teach homeroom classes are included (gym teachers, French/Spanish/ESL teachers, music teachers, Reading Recovery teachers, art teachers, guidance teachers, librarians, resource teachers (Sped or general ed), etc.
--Sped teachers who have a homeroom but a small class size due to student disabilities are also rolled into this total.
-- non-teaching staff with teacher credentials who work in the district's curriculum department or as coaches or consultants are usually included in this number

Typically the actual class sizes in a district are far higher than the student:teacher ratio, and class sizes may vary at different levels. K and first-third grades may have smaller classes than middle school. We have had primary classes as large as 31, but middle school classes up to 39.

Some districts cap class sizes for certain programs or certain grade levels. Having specialist teachers (art, music, gym) usually involves a trade-off for class size -- in order to staff the specialist position, the school must have an extra 1-3 students per classroom.

On the other hand, some small schools in rural areas or remote locations do have low class size numbers because it is not feasible to bus or transport the younger children to larger schools farther away. Busing can be as expensive, or more so, than keeping smaller schools open.

Presentiong the data on pupil:teacher ratio as "class size" data is often deliberately misleading.

Crimson Wife said...

When my DS went through the special ed assessment process through the local school district, I was absolutely floored by the number of special ed teachers they had on staff. They had nearly the same number of teachers for the 7% of kids identified as disabled as they did for all the general ed students combined. No wonder there's such a budget crunch at the school when so much is eaten up by special ed...

I was absolutely floored by the number of special ed teachers they had on staff. They had nearly the same number of teachers for the 7% of kids identified as disabled as they did for all the general ed students combined.

Wow! I've never heard of anything like this. Are you sure this was staff actually *teaching* special education? It has become increasingly common for general education teachers to get credentials in Special Ed (to deal with inclusion, to get a foot in the door when first hired, to get an additional increase in salary), but I haven't seen actual special education services increased -- rather the opposite. One reason for "radical inclusion" is to save money -- instead of having children with disabilities in a specific classroom geared to their learning needs, spread them out in the general population and have a resource teacher "service" from 20 to 200 such kids in a school.

More and more preservice teachers are getting some sped training (the quality can be pretty dismal), but I knew many who have taught Sped only long enough to get tenure. My school has only 2 Sped teachers for more than 60 "included" classified kids. Resource teachers for non-classified "struggling" kids (who may actually meet criteria for sped but who haven't been referred) don't have to have sped credentials but some do.

Most sped programs I'm familiar with have a fairly large number of students -- up to 18, with paraprofessionals used to provide more intensive help.

Depending on how a district defines Sped, the percent of classified students can reasonably range up to 10%. That would be including gifted students, children with physical or health impairments, cognitive disabilities,speech & language delays or difficulties, autism, behavior/mental health problems, "LD" (not merely academic delay, but identified problems with processing information, producing output, etc. that cannot be explained by instructional factors). Most such students are not put in segregated classes any more and are served (if they *are* served) by "accommodations" and "modifications" in the general ed classroom. Parents who want an intensive special education program have a real fight to get it.

There is a lot of variability in provision of special education services, as well as the quality of those services.

Ben Calvin said...

61 cents out of every dollar currently spent in American public schools is for instruction.

Non-teaching employees and administrators account for 49 percent of all public school staff.

Here is where you see the cost issue in public schools. Wonder what the numbers were for the public schools of 1960.

Crimson Wife said...

I'm just going by the names listed in the school directory under "special education" who weren't administrators. They had several different reading teachers plus an ESL teacher & a speech therapist, a math specialist, etc., etc. All for a school of about 500 kids.

Anonymous said...

Some special ed aides are minimum wage workers or close to it. Certain kids need their own aide depending on what's going on. I remember some of my son's classrooms having almost as many adults in them as kids, but they weren't highly trained.

My neighbor worked as an aide at the middle school and it was very low pay.

All those "specialists," though, are probably paid quite well.

SusanS

ElizabethB said...

Ben-

It has grown a lot. It varies by school district, but they have all grown. My Dad taught for 25 years, he retired 5 or 10 years ago. He retired 5 years early for a cut in his retirement pay, his biggest complaint was the administrators, how many of them there were vs. when he started teaching, and how they sucked up all the money that should have been going to teachers and students.

Ben Calvin said...

I know it will never happen, but I wish we could eliminate school districts completly in states like California, where all funding comes through the state.

Anonymous said...

>I want to know where the classrooms of 16 students are.

Can't forget teacher's prep hours/lunch, either.

Anonymous said...

>I'm just going by the names listed in the school directory under "special education" who weren't administrators. They had several different reading teachers plus an ESL teacher & a speech therapist, a math specialist, etc., etc. All for a school of about 500 kids.

The reading teachers are probably mostly plain-vanilla remedial, and the therapists would be shared between schools on a part-time basis.

--SameAnon

lgm said...

The classrooms of less than 16 are special education, unless you're in a small rural district that didn't send the college prep crowd to satellite or on-line courses. Also single period nonhonors high school math classes are less than 20 here, simply due to scheduling and low numbers that qualify.

The special education population as a percent of the student body has increased tremendously. Districts that in the past used private providers now have enough sped pop to run their own sped classrooms, so there are more teachers, specialists, therapists, pyschologists, and aides on the payroll. The influx of foreign nationals mean more ESL teachers (I still don't understand why their employers don't have to pay tuition, since they are profiting highly from the labor while dumping the social service cost on the community but I guess that's politics). And of course having computers and data processing means specialist support on staff.

Anonymous said...

PD said: One reason for "radical inclusion" is to save money...

In my district we have created ever higher road blocks to identifying and qualifying kids to our resource program. The district as a whole is trying to put the lid on costs, plus they are tied up in sped-related lawsuits which are quite a drain.

We are a small district. My own elementary site has about 550 kids with one sped resource teacher, and one aide. She has about 12, yes 12 students who attend her class on a pull-out basis. There are others on her caseload, such as 504s etc who are not served directly. I like to joke that we are cutting back the program so successfully, the whole dept will soon be out of work.

din819go said...

shouldn't the funding questions start with how much does the AMERICAN TAXPAYER spend on public education, etc? there is the only funding source for government education - the American taxpayer.