Colorado K-12 Hiring Keeps Pace with Student Enrollment–At Least Through 2010

I so often enjoy reading the online work of Mike Antonucci at the Education Intelligence Agency, if for no other reason than he asks the questions and does the homework that so very few others are willing to do. On his Intercepts blog today, he adds some badly needed context and perspective on the supposed effects of the “Teacherpocalypse” crisis:

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics has updated its Common Core of Data to include last year’s workforce numbers, and they show – for the first time in ages – a decline in the number of K-12 full-time equivalent classroom teachers. But it’s difficult to connect these modest figures with the stories of overcrowded classrooms, devastated schools, and other tales of woe that accompanied the edujobs debate last summer.

I’ll post the full details in Monday’s communiqué….

Well, I’m not much into waiting for surprises like that. So here is the skinny on Colorado, with a little help from my Education Policy Center friends, taken from the U.S. Department of Education data. From 2007-08 to 2009-10:

  • State public school enrollment grew from 801,867 to 832,368
  • The FTE (full-time equivalent) number of teachers statewide grew from 47,075 to 48,632.83
  • Total K-12 FTE staff grew from 99,327.1 to 103,348.4

Therefore, over the two-year period Colorado’s student-teacher ratio edged up 17.03:1 to 17.12:1. More interestingly, the student-staff ratio actually ticked down from 8.07:1 to 8.05:1. Up through 2009-10 at least, K-12 hiring at least kept pace with student enrollment growth. And the ranks of non-teachers grew faster than their teaching counterparts.

This quick observation doesn’t even take into account longer-term hiring trends. (What was the student-staff ratio 5 years ago? 10 years ago? 20? 30?) It should give us more perspective when the 2010-11 numbers come out next year. Too bad it’s hard to use numbers to tell us what kind of “crisis” we’re really in until it’s a year late.