One of the prolific sound bites coming out of Austin recently regarding the state's budget shortfall surrounds the concept of teachers vs. non-teaching staff. The argument made by state officials is that in the 1970s there was a 5 to 1 ratio of teaching to non-teaching staff compared to the numbers today that show a 1 to 1 ratio. The term "non-teaching staff" is also often communicated as if each of those individuals were "administrators." The argument is misleading.
The state did not begin tracking the number of employees hired as custodians, aides, bus drivers, food service workers, or clerical staff until 1988, after the creation of the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) which was introduced in the mid-1980s. Yet, all of us know of custodians, aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and others who were on our campuses at that time. If you stripped away those same employee groups out of today's numbers, the ratio of teachers to non-teachers would be roughly 4 to 1, slightly less than the 5:1 ratio being reported for 1970. While teachers make up 47% of today's workforce, they represent 58% of the total salaries in the district.
If you chose to rid the district of those non-teaching employees as suggested by some at the state level, what part of the day of teaching and working with children could teachers and our professional support staff give up to transport kids to and from school, provide meals for them, clean the classrooms or fix the technology? Obviously, in the modern era of public education, school systems have always employed these critical support areas to give teachers time to teach. It is even more critical in today's world of diverse needs and accountability.
When the state began asking districts to report these non-teaching staff members in 1988, the number of state mandates impacting the classroom was significantly less. In addition, Pasadena ISD has opened 20 new campuses since 1988, requiring additional staff to maintain and operate the facilities. When real numbers are assessed instead of the political sound bites, the change has been small and largely attributed to the change in mandated services and enrollment growth.
Professional Support: Counselors, Librarians, Nurses,
Licensed Psychologists, Diagnosticians, Campus Content Specialists, Peer
Facilitators, Speech Therapists, Physical Therapists
Auxiliary: Clerical, Bus Driver and Mechanics, Food
Service Workers, Maintenance, Custodians, Groundskeepers, Technology Services,
Police Officers and Crossing Guards
Administrators: Superintendent, Associate Superintendents, Directors, Assistant
Directors and Program Coordinators