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Blogging On History, Science, and Education

Ed Workers Who Don't Teach

Most of us know of the incredibly generous gift of one hundred million dollars given by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to the city of Newark. The intent was to improve its schools. That money is now all gone and nothing much happened to the schools. “How would you have spent the money?” a student asked educators at a recent community meeting. No one had an answer for him. But one did pose a question, “How can we get money from administration to classrooms?” If we can answer that one, Zuckerberg’s gift may turn out to have significance. Today the number of nonteaching educators, administrators and consultants often overwhelm teaching staffs. Fifty years ago Denver, with a school population then larger than it is today, had a two-story administration building. Soon there was a nine-story behemoth. That didn’t prove large enough; today administrators are squeezed into 12 stories. You can find that pattern in cities nationwide. As one teacher told me, “Each time they add an administrator there’s more work for me to do,” and that work takes her away from her students. Are all those education workers (on city, state, and the national level) needed? If you want to see lean and efficient, check your nearest independent school where teachers, often paid less than in public schools, seem to be trusted.
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