Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bureacracy Creep

On the heels of my post yesterday about the purpose of a school district, comes this story out of Los Angeles. Apparently the purpose of a school district is to provide employment for bureaucrats:
Parents, teacher union representatives and school board members on Monday either blasted or questioned the growth of the Los Angeles Unified School District's massive bureaucracy in recent years as they responded to a Daily News analysis of the district's staffing and salary structure.

The Daily News found that the LAUSD's bureaucracy ballooned nearly 20 percent from 2001 to 2007. During that same period, 500 teaching positions were cut and enrollment dropped by 6 percent.
If enrollment drops by six percent, seeing teaching positions cut is to be expected. But you don't expect to see a 20 percent growth in school bureaucracies.
The district has approximately 4,000 administrators, managers and other nonschool-based employees - not including clerks and office workers - whose average salary is about $95,000. About 2,400 administrators are among the 3,478 LAUSD employees who earn more than $100,000 annually. Yet the average teacher salary is $63,000.
Hmmm! Misplace priorities, methinks.

But buried in the story is this little bit.
Dozens of teachers called the Daily News and expressed outrage over the publication of their salaries - along with those of administrators - on an online database. Saying they would cancel their newspaper subscriptions, teachers called the database at a "breach of confidence," "reprehensible," and an "invasion of privacy."
Um, sorry. I don't buy this as an invasion of privacy. Teacher salaries are paid with taxpayer dollars and they are public employees, their salaries are and should be public information. Now if the paper had published addresses or other personal information, yes that would be incorrect and an invasion of privacy.
Monday morning, Cortines, Brewer and other district officials spoke to about 200 parents in North Hollywood.

Christine Provencio, a volunteer of more than 30 years in San Fernando Valley schools, said the wage disparity was surprising.

"I feel sorry for the teachers ... They don't get that much compared to the people downtown," Provencio said. "The money should be where the children are. We have to look at the priorities."

She questioned why district officials spent money holding Monday's meeting at a hotel ballroom instead of a school auditorium.

Rachel Reyes, a 17-year-old senior at Cleveland High School, said knowing teachers' salaries provides transparency.

"I think it's important for everyone to know because of budget cuts and teachers strikes over the years," Reyes said. "Honestly, I feel bad that some teachers don't make as much as others."

Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said public awareness of LAUSD salaries could negatively impact Measure Q, a $7 billion school bond on the November ballot.

"I think a lot of people do not realize how well ... the education industry pays itself," he said.

Hearing that dozens of teachers called the newspaper to complain that their privacy had been invaded, Vosburgh said: "It's nonsense. They're not private. They work for the public."
Two big points in that segment. First, a 17 year old gets the concept of transparency. Second, hotel ballroom? The parent is right, why not a school auditorium?

I suspect two reasons. First, I am sure the hotel was a lot closer to the school district offices. Second, I would bet that attendence at the ballroom was reduced since people had to travel to teh hotel rather than going to their nearby school.

Nice, real nice.

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