Updating Texas’ (still) stingy educational support

A couple of the statistical rankings I have been using (as recently as three days ago) to illustrate state government’s dismal commitment to Texas’ public schools are now officially outdated. Texas no longer is 33rd in average teacher salary. It has slipped to 34th. And, Texas no longer is 44th in perpupil expenditures on instruction. It has moved up to the notsoheady level of 38th.

Don’t exactly feel like celebrating, do you?

These figures are based on the 200809 school year and are the most recent available.
The average teacher salary in Texas that year was $47,159, more than $7,000 below the national average of $54,333 and the most Texas has been below the national average in teacher pay in at least 10 years. This figure doesn’t include the $800 annual pay raise approved by the Legislature last year, which was effective for 200910. The average perpupil expenditure on instruction in Texas in 200809 was $9,036, compared to $10,190 nationally.

So, the next time you hear some governor, legislator or legislative candidate say the only thing the public schools need is more accountability, remember his or her talk is about as cheap as state government’s record of supporting public education.

Here are some other updated statistics, which may be of particular educational value to people who think the public schools are topheavy with administrative fat – although I am not holding my breath.

Texas has 1,235 school districts and charter schools with 8,322 campuses. They have 646,800 employees. Of those, 327,600 (or about 50.6 percent) are teachers. Another 62,400 (9.6 percent) are educational aides, and another 54,400 (8.4 percent) are professional support staff, including counselors.

In other words, 68.6 percent of school district employees are either teachers, classroom aides or professional personnel giving direct support to teachers. Another 177,200 school workers (or 27.4 percent of the total) are school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and other personnel contributing to a safe learning environment. That brings us to about 96 percent of the total public school payroll.

Yes, schools also have administrators. The districts and charters employ 18,300 principals and other administrators at the individual schools 2.8 percent of total school employment and 6,600 superintendents and other administrative staff at the central offices – a whopping 1 percent of the total.

Our public schools and their employees are in the business of educating our children and preparing Texas’ future. Too many of our state leaders are in the business of making that task more difficult than it ought to be. If they haven’t squeezed all the blood out of the public schools by now, it isn’t because they haven’t tried.

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