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Study: TN School Districts Top-Heavy with Bureaucrats

Tennessee teachers could have gotten annual raises of $8,367 over an almost two-decade period, if school boards had curbed growth in the number of administrators they employ.

That’s the message in a new report by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, based in Indianapolis.

The bump represents a 17.8 percent increase in pay on the $47,000 salary a typical Tennessee teacher takes home.

Using student population as the benchmark, the foundation examined growth in the central offices in school districts across America, from 1992 to 2009.

The number of non-teaching staff jumped 46 percent nationally, compared to a 17 percent increase in students  – or less than half the rate of growth in the administrative ranks.

Tennessee closely followed the national trend line, with administrators and staff increasing 49 percent, compared to a 17 percent increase in students.

“As the dramatic growth of non-teaching staff in public schools shows, throwing more money at education is not the answer,” said Justin Owen, with the free-market Beacon Center in Nashville. The Beacon Center works with the Friedman Foundation to promote school choice.

“That money simply gets eaten up in the system with nothing to show for it rather than educating our children,” said Owen.

The foundation did the math on potential savings if administrative growth had tracked student population over the study period.

Tennessee would have realized more than $543.2 million in savings annually. Nationally, the figure was more than $24.2 billion annually.

To derive the teacher raises estimate, the foundation took the $543.2 million in savings, divided by the number of teachers in the state in 2009.

View the full report here, as well as an interactive, state-by-state map.

The foundation was established by economist Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose.

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