Remember this figure: 18,000 plus. That figure, according to Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue and House minority leader Joe Hackney ( D-Orange ), – is the number of public school jobs that would be lost if the Republicans passed their version of the 2011-12 state budget.
Last week, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released results from a survey showing – as of August 25th 2011 – 6,307 positions had been eliminated, including about 2,418 that were filled when eliminated. According to the document, from 2008-09 through 2011-12, 16,677 positions were eliminated in the public schools and 6,096 individuals lost their jobs.
While there is no rejoicing in the job losses, North Carolinians can certainly understand 6,300 is not remotely close to 18,000. As you might expect, the press has been all over the DPI numbers. To my knowledge however, I know of no article which takes the prognosticators to task for their wildly inaccurate predictions. It’s also interesting to note that this isn’t the first year of job losses. Yet does anyone remember DPI releasing similar job loss numbers in previous years? I guess education leaders were less hesitant to challenge Democratic leadership on the issue.
Are layoff numbers valid?
Questions continue to swirl concerning the validity of the DPI job loss numbers. It is a well-known fact that many schools keep hiring through September to help fill their personnel needs for the upcoming year. To the extent that they do, the number of layoffs would certainly decline.
DPI numbers are from survey responses. However these fail to include responses from Guilford and Duplin County Schools or any charter schools. DPI said officials from the department contacted Guilford and Duplin County schools repeatedly. No reason was given why charter schools were not included in the survey.
There are other curiosities. In a recent blog post, Terry Stoops, the Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation, raises an interesting point when he notes that unlike when private companies are surveyed for unemployment information, agencies can verify data through audits and payment records, there is no comparable way to establish an objective baseline for the self-reported DPI data.
The DPI job loss numbers also do not distinguish by source of funding. There is no knowledge as to whether someone is funded with state, federal or local dollars. Hence, it is not possible to assess how many jobs are lost due to the end of stimulus funding or a result of local budget reductions.
The Other Side of the Story
The DPI job loss numbers tell a story, but they don’t tell the whole story. The numbers tell a story of job losses over the past four years. However, they fail to tell what happened before that time period.
Chart I reviews ten years of public school personnel totals by category and year. Hence, year-to -year fluctuations in these totals, although not exact, can provide a sense of the general trends in public school hiring and supply perspective to the current wave of public school job losses.
Chart I: North Carolina Public School Personnel by Type And Source of Funding 2000-2011
|Non. Cert. Personnel||59,621||61,177||62,240||62,960||63,225||65,263||66,798||67,997||68,958||70,209||65,948||64,156|
|School Personnel by Source of Funding|
A quick review of the data reveals a common trend line in nearly all categories: a steady increase in school personnel until 2009 and then declining personnel numbers for the last two years.
Chart II III and IV sum up the major personnel changes for three different periods: 2000 to 2009, 2010-2011 and 2000-2011. Because personnel numbers for 2011-12 have not been released, we include data up to 2010-11 only.
Chart II: Public School Personnel Changes 2000-2009
|Job Category||Gain 2000-2009||% Gain 2000-2009|
|Inst. Personnel||+4,187||40 %|
|Non. Certif. Personnel||+10,588||18 %|
|All Public School Personnel||+34,893||22 %|
|State Personnel||+22,658||19 %|
|Federal Personnel||+2,494||25 %|
|Local Personnel||+9,741||40 %|
|All Public School Persnl.||+34,893||22 %|
|Gain in ADM Enrollment||+211,818||17 %|
Chart III: North Carolina Public School Net Employment Changes by Category, 2009-2011
|Job Category||Personnel Loss or Gain 2009-2011|
|Inst. Personnel||– 85|
|Non. Certif. Personnel||-6,053|
|All Public School Personnel||-10,657|
|All Public School Persnl.||-10,657|
|Gain in ADM Enrollment||+13,928|
Chart IV: North Carolina Public School Personnel Net Personnel Changes by Category, 2000-2011
|Job Category||Net Gain 2000-2011||% Gain 2000-2011|
|Inst. Personnel||+4,102||40 %|
|Non. Certif. Personnel||+4,505||8 %|
|All Public School Personnel||+24,236||16 %|
|State Personnel||+4,546||3 %|
|Federal Personnel||+16,040||159 %|
|Local Personnel||+4,350||18 %|
|All Public School Persnl.||+24,236||16 %|
|Gain in ADM Enrollment||+225,746||18 %|
Definitions- Personnel categories represent all employees – state, local and federally funded — in given categories. Teachers include elementary and secondary teachers; Administrators include central administration personnel, superintendents, school officials, directors, principals and assistant principals. Instructional Personnel includes staff involved with improving school instruction such as media support, instructional coaches mentors. It also includes school professional staff such as psychologists, social workers, speech pathologists etc…Non-certified school personnel includes; teacher assistants, technicians, clerical and secretarial staff, skilled workers and general laborers.
The data in Chart II tell an interesting story. For the first nine years of the decade, the percentage growth in each employment category grew at rate greater than the rate of increase in the student population. Over the period 2000 to 2009, the student population increased 17 percent, the number of public school personnel hired increased by 22 percent and the number of teachers hired increased by 23 percent.
During the same period, North Carolina added 212,000 new students. However, nearly 35,000 new public school employees were also added. In addition to 18,700 new teachers, 1,400 new administrators were hired including 4,200 instructional personnel and 10,600 non-certified staff.
Chart III shows that in the last two years (2009-2011) the hiring frenzy has clearly been reversed. According to School Personnel data, between 2009-11 approximately 10,700 jobs were lost. This includes 4,200 teaching jobs, 300 administrators, 85 instructional personnel and 6,000 non-certified personnel. While the data reflects school personnel counts, it is interesting to note the year-to-year job differences aren’t consistent with other DPI documents. Why that’s the case is an important question, but one best left for another article.
In 2011 there were about 18,800 fewer state-funded public school positions than in 2009. In order to stabilize employment ranks, schools hired about 13,500 additional federal workers. Most of these workers were hired through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA or stimulus funds) and Edujobs program. North Carolina received over $1 billion is stimulus funds and $400 million in Edujobs money. Of the 13,500 new federal workers, about 11,500 are teachers. The massive influx of federal funds raised the number of federal government workers in the schools from 12,500 in 2009 to 26,000 in 2011, an increase of 108 percent.
Chart IV brings up another interesting point that too often gets lost amidst the shrill rhetoric of the school debate. That is, even including personnel losses from the last two years, the net size of the personnel increases from 2000 to 2011 are striking. The net number of teachers increased by 14,500 – or eighteen percent – which is the percentage increase in student enrollment over the same time period. It is also worth noting that all job categories but one – non-certified personnel – had net percentage personnel gains greater than the gains in student enrollment. Thus, it appears that staffing level, even with budget reductions, have kept pace with student enrollments and fared better than reported.
These numbers are consistent with efforts in North Carolina and elsewhere to reduce class size and experiment with more instructional support staff and out-of-class positions for teachers such as mentors, teacher-leaders and instructional “coaches”
According to The National Education Association Rankings and Estimates report, between 1999-2000 and the 2007-08 school years, the national teacher workforce has increased at more than double the rate of K-12 student enrollment.
- Stimulus funding – and the spending conditions (i.e., maintenance of effort provisions require states to spend at certain levels to receive funds) which accompany those funds — has allowed staff increases to be built into employment bases. Such provisions only worsen the impact of the economic downturn and work to make such personnel increases unsustainable
- Net staff reductions, while real, have been softened by years of personnel increases. A review of the real numbers reflects a decline in the rate of increase and show little evidence for those who describe such cuts as “draconian”
- Stimulus funds have allowed policy makers to delay making hard decisions about education budgets at the state and local level. The expiration of stimulus funding may change that. Nobody likes having to do more with less. However, the current climate provides an opportunity for decision makers to thoroughly review staffing needs and the formulas that drive them. If followed properly these efforts can yield great benefits to teachers, students and taxpayers for years to come.
Wild predictions about education job losses by Gov. Perdue and Minority Leader Hackney have not only turned up the volume on the education debate but also proven entirely inaccurate. Why the press refuses to hold either leader accountable for their missteps is a question that begs for an answer.
The fact is that schools embarked on a decade-long hiring frenzy prior to the current recession. The staff build-up has proved to be unsustainable. Focusing merely on the last couple of years blurs the bigger picture. Observing the trends since 2000 reveals that public school staff levels have grown at a healthy pace over the past eleven years, even after taking account of the reductions over the past three budgets. Reckless claims of “draconian” cuts and “abandoning education” are detached from reality.
 Teacher Layoffs May Be Linked to Hiring Spree, Education Week May 13, 2010