2006 March 21 Tuesday
DC School Administrators Rake In Big Bucks

Whoever said schools do not pay well?

More than a dozen D.C. public school system central office administrators are taking home base salaries of at least $150,000 per year, compared with just one official earning that much two years ago, according to an analysis of payroll records.

The salary information, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, shows 14 central administration officials receiving a base pay of at least $150,000 in fiscal 2006, including five officials making $170,000 or more.

Do I even need to tell you that students in the District of Columbia perform terribly on standardized tests? Now, most of that failure is not the fault of the school administrators. But I doubt they deserve to make the big bucks.

Spending per district varies a great deal and does not track well with student performance.

* In 2002-03, the 50 states and the District of Columbia spent an average of $8,044 in current expenditures for every pupil in membership table 5). This represents a 4.0 percent increase in current expenditures per student from the previous school year ($7,734 in unadjusted dollars).

* The median of the state per pupil expenditures was $7,574, indicating that one-half of all states educated students at a cost of less than $7,574 per student (derived from table 5). Three states-New Jersey ($12,568), New York ($11,961), and Connecticut ($11,057)-expended more than $11,000 per pupil. The District of Columbia, which comprises a single urban district, spent $11,847 per pupil. Only one state, Utah, had expenditures of less than $5,000 for each pupil in membership ($4,838).

* On average, for every student in 2002-03, about $4,934 was spent for instructional services. Expenditures per pupil for instruction ranged from $3,103 in Utah to $ 8,213 in New York. Support services expenditures per pupil were highest in the District of Columbia ($5,331) and New Jersey ($4,757), and lowest in Mississippi ($1,966), Tennessee ($1,885), and Utah ($1,461). Expenditures per pupil for noninstructional services such as food services were $329 for the nation.

Either the kids in Utah need less support services because they have married parents with jobs or lots of social workers and administrators are blood-sucking leeches draining the life out of schools in other states. My guess is some of both goes on.

Low spending Utah gets excellent results with a highly white population.

Schools spend fewer dollars per student in Utah than in any other state, but more fourth-graders there improved reading and math scores over the past decade than in more than half of the states.

Maine, for example, spends nearly twice as much on a comparable student population -- $9,300 a student vs. $4,800 in Utah. But fewer Maine fourth-graders improved their math scores -- and their reading scores actually declined in the past decade.

Both states ranked just above the national average on 2005 national reading and math tests, known as the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP. But Utah stands out for its success in boosting the number of students to pass the tests since 1992, the first year of state-by-state NAEP testing, despite ranking dead last for spending.

Because of lackluster academic gains for the nation as a whole, education analysts increasingly are focusing attention on standout states where test scores show more students passing than a decade ago. The most recent NAEP scores released in October showed that despite strong gains in fourth-grade mathematics since 1992, students aren't reading much better than a decade ago. Nearly two-thirds of fourth- and eighth-graders nationwide still score below grade level -- called "proficient" by NAEP -- in both math and reading.

In Utah, only 19 percent of fourth-graders scored proficient or better on math in 1992, but nearly twice as many -- 38 percent -- passed in 2005.

Utah students' academic success is due in part to the state's lower-than-average population of minority and non-English-speaking students, who historically score lower. But state education officials also credit their efforts to raise state academic standards, such as by aligning classroom curricula with standardized tests and holding schools accountable for student performance.

Note the reference to Utah's low non-white population. The writer refers to "minorities". But of course what is really meant are blacks and Amerind Hispanics. If Utah had a large population of Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, and upper caste Indians Utah's scores would be even higher. But America's media and think tanks have decided they should dissemble about racial differences.

Spending has gone up greatly per student in recent decades.

In 1982, per-pupil spending was $5,930; it rose 60% by 2000 to $9,230 (inflation-adjusted). The reduction in student-teacher ratio from 18.6 in 1982 to 15 in 1999 accounts for the greatest proportion of this increase in spending.(Hoxby, Caroline, M. "What Has Changed And What Has Not, in Our Schools and Our Future ...Are We still at Risk, Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, 2003, p.101,103.).

Per-pupil spending increased even more drastically from 1970 till now. But I wasn't able to find a good source for that time length. Anyone know of a good link for American school spending trends per pupil in inflation-adjusted terms?

Unfortunately the increasing percentage of Amerind Hispanics in the US population is going to drive down average academic performance. All the money being thrown at education is getting thrown in the wrong direction. A small fraction of that money diverted to building a high wall on the US-Mexican border would do way more to help schools than hiring more teachers. The education racket is wasting even more money than the Iraq war. The lies from our dishonest elites about why some do poorly in school will continue until cheap DNA sequencing finally settles the issue.

If you want to gaze into America's dismal future see my posts Texas Has Lowest High School Graduation Rates, Texas Standard School Test Results Are Warning On Immigration and Immigrants Do Not Improve Academically In Later Generations.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 March 21 10:35 PM  Education

tc said at March 21, 2006 11:00 PM:

Total and current expenditure per pupil in public elementary and secondary schools: Selected years, 1919-20 to 2001-02


Arnold Kling said at March 22, 2006 12:52 PM:

My guess is that this way overstates instructional spending. A lot of spending goes for curriculum co-ordinators, program administrators, and other bloat. My guess is that if you just looked at money that goes to adults with direct contact with students (in-class teachers, coaches, and counselors), you would see very little increase in spending. The money is going to fat, not to muscle.

Gary Glaucon said at March 22, 2006 5:18 PM:

No doubt that spending more money doesn't make kids smarter- see Hanuchek at Stanford U. and the Bell Curve.

The bottom line is that education is a socialist haven, where they want all students to have equally ostentatious facilities and be equally dumb.

As for the administrators' salaries, it costs money to get good people and for living in D.C., I don't object to those salaries. However, I question the quality of people.

crush41 said at March 22, 2006 10:03 PM:

Interestingly, if test scores are broken down by race/ethnicity and adjusted for cost-of-living, correlations between expenditures on education and test scores do emerge, for whites and Asians anyway. For whites there is a significance factor of almost zero and an r-squared of .2--that is, expenditures per student and test scores absolutely are correlated with statistical significance in a moderate but meaningful way (keep in mind that the r-squared value for income and IQ is only around .15). Without race, however, there is absoulely no correlation. That is largely because heavily black and Hispanic urban areas generally spend big bucks without stellar results, while rural areas that spend much more modestly outperform the urban areas. Those on the left that support infinite educational funding increases ignore this at their own peril, of course.

But upon closer inspection the money is probably symptamatic of sharp kids, not the maker of them. When standard-of-living is taken into consideration, the independent effects of expenditure per student and expenditure per teacher virtually vanish (only whites remain marginally effected and it's outside a 95% confidence interval). Simply put, the higher the standard of living a school district enjoys, the better its students perform academically, irrespective of how much money actually goes to education. Smarter parents have smarter kids.

John S Bolton said at March 23, 2006 2:06 AM:

What about all the museums and cultural institutions in DC; isn't a portion of their budgets atrributable to programs of outreach to district schoolchildren? Perhaps never has so much been spent on a municipal student population of size, per capita that is, with more atrociously low results. Give us money, give us power, said the officials, and we will deliver equalization; but it all went down the rathole of the marbleized alternative welfare society. Perhaps they'll now tell us that the black students there have been victimized by too much money, and too great a cultural expenditure?
How're we going to find a way to blame the net taxpayer for the failures of those on net public subsidy? If we don't, though, we're not such great liberals, no doubt.

Randall Parker said at March 23, 2006 5:04 PM:


Thanks. I like that page Total and current expenditure per pupil in public elementary and secondary schools: Selected years, 1919-20 to 2001-02.

From 1971 to 2001 the total expenditures per student in inflation adjusted dollars doubled from $4884 to $9614. Going back even further the expenditures tripled from 1963's $3228.

People who argue that the problem of low student performance in schools is due to inadequate expenditures are historically ignorant.

Randall Parker said at March 23, 2006 5:54 PM:


I think those smart white kids would derive far bigger benefits from high resolution recordings of college level lecture courses than they would from higher local school budgets. Those recordings could be made and distributed for fairly small sums of money.

I just spend a couple of days at a Liberty Fund seminar with a very academic crowd. A couple of the profs there were very unhappy with the idea of recorded lectures since they saw the recordings as something that would decrease the demand for people like themselves. Welcome to the real world of competition from technological advances.

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