Spending, salaries seen soaring in stagnant state education system
An analysis of long-term trends in education spending and student achievement indicates a dramatic increase in spending with little to show for it, according to a recent analysis posted on the DuPage Watchdog website.
The site focused on Wheaton-based Community Unit School District 200 as an example of what is described as a statewide trend.
Teacher salaries were seen growing faster than inflation over the last two-plus decades, and the number of teachers and administrators has grown while enrollment has declined.
Watchdog spokesperson Jan Shaw told the DuPage Policy Journal that she compared data from 1990 with inflation-adjusted data from 2016 for the district, which primarily serves the Wheaton and Warrenville communities.
Among her findings: The district's cost per student in 1990 was $4,438. Adjusted for inflation, that would equal approximately $8,150 in 2016. The actual cost in 2016 was $12,636 per student.
Statistics are similar across Illinois, where cost per student was $4,519 in 1990 and $12,821 in 2016. Adjusted for inflation, $4,519 in 1990 would be $8,298 today.
“It’s just an analysis of all the money being spent, and what you find is it’s all being spent on personnel,” Shaw said. “It used to be a time when funds allocated were also enough to take care of the buildings. Now all you see are more teachers and adults in the system. No wonder there’s nothing left for anything else.”
The average 1990 teacher salary in District 200 was $37,071, which would equate to $68,074 in 2016. The actual figure is 9.1 percent higher, at $74,282.
Average teacher salaries across the state were 4.9 percent higher on average in 2016 than they were in 1990, based on inflation.
Shaw said just as troubling as the increase in spending is the fact that it doesn't correspond to a positive impact on education.
“The students don’t appear to be doing any better,” she said. “Granted, it’s difficult to gauge now with all the different standardized tests being given, but not many of them are exceeding standards.”
Meanwhile, Shaw laments a system that still automatically awards teachers with annual raises.
“The only reason more money hasn’t been spent is because everyone just ran out of money,” she said. “I don’t know the answers. I just know the students don’t seem to be doing any better, and with all the adults now in the system, I don’t believe it’s the kids’ faults.”