Strategies for Education Spending: Growth with Reform

Reverse the alarming spending growth rate

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. – Part 3 of a Series  

Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – Over the past decade public education spending across the nation, including here in Texas, has increased dramatically.  The costs are rising faster than the taxpayer can fund them.  In Texas there has been a 63% increase. Why has there been such a large increase in spending, while student performance has declined?

For certain the money is not going toward instructional costs. The Texas Education Agency reports that total expenditures per pupil are $11,567 with only $4,972 going toward instructional costs.

Where is the money going?

To pay the salaries of large numbers of non-teaching personnel.

From 1998-99 to 2008-09 the number of teachers in Texas rose from 256,276 to 325,809, a 27.1% increase, while during the same period the number of administrators rose from 18,531 to 25,130, a 35.6% increase.

The teacher to non-teacher ratio is 1.019!

Has all of this extra help from non-teaching personnel provided an uptick in academic improvement to justify the cost?

To the contrary.

We have seen a decline in results.  The average Texas SAT score has continued to drop: 992 in 1998-1999, 989 in 1999-2000, and 985 in 2009-2010.

Why are there so many ancillary members with numerous curriculum directors?  Why are there so many administrators? 

It appears that our educators consider spending taxpayer money on well-paid non-teaching staff to be more vital than spending money to retain new well-trained teachers who often leave after five years for better jobs and work environments.

The elimination of these layers of non-teaching bureaucracy must be a very high priority in getting our education finances in order.

Far too much money and time are being spent on public education with little “return on our taxpayer investment” dollars.  As student scores slide southward and violence and disrespect continue to grow at alarming rates in our schools, we cannot expect voters to continue shaking the money tree. 

Voters across America have already sent the message that we want less government, less spending, and a return to the ways that made us a great nation.

That message also applies to state and local governments and how our money is used for education.

Public school administrators must take the leadership in returning to the simple, time proven ways of imparting knowledge and stop trying out every newfangled idea that consultants, elitists, and “reformers” want to test next to justify their existence and fat salaries.

If educators are unwilling to listen to the taxpayers about less spending and improving student performance, they are going to face loss of their positions as Americans seek other options that will provide a better education for our children—at a far less cost.

Carole Hornsby Haynes welcomes comments at Additional information is available by visiting


  1. @ L. Barker

    So the question must be asked. Is this necessary and is it increasing student performance? It could be argued that this extra bureaucracy is in fact detrimental to student learning. This leads me to the conclusion that TAKS in all of its forms is a huge waste of time and resources. So, how do we ensure students are meeting state standards without wasting the time and limited resources? ( Basically, how do we ensure school accountability without spending so much on tests)

  2. I agree that we (educators) can always improve, but I would like to clarify some of the information you referenced. 1.) The reason why the SAT scores have dropped is a result primarily due to local and state pressure to have more, if not all, students take the assessment. The state even provided money to cover the cost for those students who were economically disadvantaged. Therefore, the majority of the students who took the SAT back in 1998 were college bound and in most cases were to attend a 4 year university. Now we testing a much larger number of students who might not be college bound and therefore do not have to motivation to do their best on yeat another assessment they have to take during the school year. So when you take that into consideration, the 4 point SAT average score decline is not a reflection of the quality of education our students are receiving in public schools. 2.) With every state and federal mandate and/or appropriated monies comes an enormous amount of documentation, meetings, guidlelines. Just in the area of state assessments, in 1999 a 4-A high school had only one person would coordinate the four days of testing. With the implementation of TAKS, TAKS-A, TAKS-Alt, TAKS-M, LAT, TELPAS, and the accommodations that come with them, multiple personell must assist with the administration, monitoring, reporting, and shipment of 5 times the number of testing days than in 1999. And with the implementation of the STAAR-EOC, we will be looking at 48 days of testing to prepare for each school year and this is only at the high school level. Another example is with student success initiatives. If a district receives money for either Title-I (part A, B, or IDEA), ARI/AMI, and/or Title III then they are required to purchase a “research based” program from in most cases an approved list rather than allowing districts to use the money to better trainin teachers, reduce class size, and be proactive rather than a responsive.

  3. For Grrrrr
    You want to lower the numbers in your classroom ?
    Have a parent call the Fire Inspector to certify the classroom has sufficient exits for the number of students:)

  4. I’m an old timer that knows very little of todays educational methods other than what I hear from my kids and Grandchildren but I’d like to know how all you ladies and gentlemen , including myself, managed to survive the dark ages of education of the past century. What was wrong with simply passing pop quizes, six weeks exams and end of semester exams then SAT’s for college bound students. Why spend all the time teaching SAT’s and other like materals to elementery students instead of the basic 3R’s and sciences. Teach K-12 all materals and advanced therioes and they should be able to achieve a satisfactory level of achievement to pass SAT’s.
    Just my .02 cents.

  5. PRIVATE schools is the key. We keep trying to fix this White Elephant and we would be better off to phase this government sponsered crap out and institute privately funded schools that are merit based for both teachers and students. There will be some problems, but nothing we can’t fix which is not the case for the mess we have now. Think of Millions more dollars spent in the last 30 years and FLAT LINE education acheivement in return—DUH!!!

  6. Government additional paperwork and reports that include NCLB, RTI, and State Testing have added many of these positions. If the government would cancel all required testing and required reports, then schools could focus on just teaching our kids. If this govenment intrusion were all ended, the money saved could balance many state and local budgets.

  7. There are at least three documentaries which show us the relatively simple way to fix public education – introduce SCHOOL CHOICE. The documentaries are Stupid in America (available on the internet), Waiting for Superman and The Cartel. Incredibly no bill has been introduced to drive school choice in Texas despite the remarkable success in other states such as Florida and New Jersey, thanks to Governor Christie. If Christie could do this in a few weeks what is delaying progress in Texas? What is the cause of the inaction? With a supermajority in the Texas House, we should be able to pass aggressive and advanced school choice legislation
    This is from the 2010 GOP Texas Platform: “Parental School Choice – We encourage the Governor and the Texas Legislature to enact child-centered school funding options – which fund the student, not schools or districts – to allow maximum freedom of choice in public, private or parochial education for all children.”
    Among the Ten Principles listed in the platform is number 7 addressing school choice: “7. Having an educated population, with parents having the freedom of choice for the education of their children.”
    I am afraid our opportunity will be blown by passive Republican politicians and eventually the Democrats and their unions will regain power, at which time we will have nothing to show for the current Republican ascendancy. School choice is arguably the most important initiative that could be addressed by the legislature and Governor Perry.

  8. Remember the tune (if you are old enough) “Reading and Writing and Arithmetic taught to the tune of a hickory stick” It was good back then it is still good enough for today. Yes I know, you can’t discipline a child for being bad or disruptive or destructive. They need to be taught the basics and actual history. Maybethen they would not think that the world revolve’s around them. How to accomplish that would involve the parent(s) if that is even a possibility. Consolidte school districts into county districts and fire the excess. Keep the classroom at a teachable level and supply good teachers.

  9. The content of so much of what the children are taught is utterly offensive to me, as is the fact concerning what is being left out.

    The fact that I’m paying for all that is intolerable.

  10. @ CW – There was an article that I read recently that stated the State was entertaining the idea of increasing the student to teacher ratio in the classroom to save money with no talk of cutting administrator salaries or positions. The reasoning was that there was no evidence that small class size improved student performance and that the number one factor in student performance was the educator in the classroom. That is true to an extent but I can tell you there is a huge difference between my class of 32 and my class of 20.

  11. I am an educator in a medium sized school district in East Texas. Although this is by far not the only problem in our schools it is a huge problem. Too many chiefs and not nearly enough indians is the phrase I hear repeatedly among my fellow teachers. Why does a school district need an ELA curriculum director for a high school that is getting paid about $75,000 a year when they have a highly competent English department head and a highly competent Social Studies department head?

    Most superintendents will tell you that these positions are highly important due to the amount of paperwork that is needed from NCLB and that the “administrators” are instrumental in maintaing compliance with NCLB. This may very well be the case and should be examined. If NCLB is creating this much of strain then perhaps the Texas legislature should finally step up and do what is right and opt out of it. But, then we will loose quite a bit of Federal money which enables us to pay for these unneeded administrators. Kind of a vicious cycle. For that matter why doesn’t the Texas Legislature step and do anything worth while like thinking of alternative ways to test our students instead of paying a textbook company $90 million to develop an end of course exam.

    This is a money game people. Do you think a superintendent is going to demote his fellow administrators to being simple teachers again.

  12. Carole as always very well said I might add that I would appreciate in a future article seeing what the student to teacher ratio is side by side with the teacher to non-teacher ratio:)
    Would also enjoy seeing the ratio of top administrators to support staff to do their work.
    When I was teaching in Texas I never had anyone to do all that paperwork necessary to comply with rules created by individuals that had absolutely NO CLUE as to what was going on in my classroom.

  13. Carole, you have just put your finger on a major waste of tax payers dollars here in Texas, administrators. “The elimination of these layers of non-teaching bureaucracy must be a very high priority in getting our education finances in order.” Administrators are government employees at the local level. CUT! CUT! CUT!

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