The trend in Kansas public school employment and teacher/pupil ratios may surprise you, given the narrative presented by public schools.
“More students, but fewer teachers — Since 2009, Kansas schools have gained more than 19,000 students but have 665 fewer teachers.” (Quality at Risk: Impact of Education Cuts, Kansas Center for Economic Growth)
“Class sizes have increased, teachers and staff members have been laid off.” (What’s the Matter With Kansas’ Schools?, New York Times)
This is typical of the sentiment in Kansas — that there are fewer teachers since Sam Brownback became governor, and that class sizes have exploded.
Below is a chart of data from Kansas State Department of Education. This data shows that for the past four years employment is rising, both for teachers and certified employees. Also, the ratio of these employees to students is falling, meaning fewer pupils per employee.
Class size is not the same as pupil-teacher ratio. But if there are proportionally more teachers than students, we have to wonder why class sizes are growing. What are the teachers doing?
The story is not the same in each school district. I’ve created an interactive visualization that lets you examine the employment levels and ratios in individual Kansas school districts. Click here to open the visualization in a new window.