Before I graduated from East High in May 2012, I heard a frustrated teacher of mine comment that if the district administrators were all kidnapped by aliens, it would be weeks before anyone noticed. Granted, there are always some tasks that administrators are needed for. But ultimately, the purpose of a school system is to provide an education, and since teachers are the educators, they must represent most of the school system’s employees, right? Well, the National Center for Education Statistics found that in 2009 only 50.5% of school system employees in the United States are teachers, so teachers are only half the workforce.
In Wyoming, the same report found that only 43.5% of our school system employees are teachers. This is the lowest rate in the country, meaning Wyoming’s school system is filled with more administration than that of any other state. As a student, I saw some of the effects of this. For example, each year I was at East High, changes were made to the schedule. Among these was actually a cut in the number of classes we could take: it was possible for a student to take ten classes in the 2009-10 school year, but by 2011-12, that number was down to eight. Other changes looked good on paper, but were not good in practice. The time for students to come in to see teachers for extra help was moved from lunch to before school. In theory, this gave teachers more time to help students. In practice, numerous teachers saw a drop in how many students were actually willing to come in and get help. Decisions made by administrators removed from teaching often hurt teachers’ effectiveness.
We need to remember that a school exists to provide a service, namely an education, and that this is where the focus should be. Administrative overload is not helping to educate our children, and we should act to make our schools more efficient. There’s no reason we can’t do better. Other states have been able to run their school systems with much better teacher-staff rates. We should look to Montana and North Dakota, two demographically similar states that manage to beat the national average at 54.2% and 52.3% respectively. Students in both states also scored higher than Wyoming students on the ACT, so we don’t need more bureaucrats to improve education. In following their lead and cut down on administration, we can give a better, more efficient, more effective, and less costly education to our young.