Every year, hosts of administrators and staffers are added to college and university payrolls, even as schools claim to be battling budget crises that are forcing them to reduce the size of their full-time faculties. As a result, universities are now filled with armies of functionaries—vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, vice provosts, assistant provosts, deans, deanlets, and deanlings, all of whom command staffers and assistants—who, more and more, direct the operations of every school. If there is any hope of getting higher education costs in line, and improving its quality—and I think there is, though the hour is late—it begins with taking a pair of shears to the overgrown administrative bureaucracy.And the numbers:
"Forty years ago, America’s colleges employed more professors than administrators. The efforts of 446,830 professors were supported by 268,952 administrators and staffers. Over the past four decades, though, the number of full-time professors or “full-time equivalents”—that is, slots filled by two or more part-time faculty members whose combined hours equal those of a full-timer—increased slightly more than 50 percent. That percentage is comparable to the growth in student enrollments during the same time period. But the number of administrators and administrative staffers employed by those schools increased by an astonishing 85 percent and 240 percent, respectively."Meanwhile, tuition has increased faster than health care costs and even the Washington Monthly doesn't think tuition can actually go down. We now have a system that requires public school attendance of all children and then allows employers to require additional training, like the BA, that citizens must pay for privately in order to get a job with a living wage. Our city, state and local governments using the tax dollars of all citizens, create jobs that most citizens cannot obtain with the services provided for them without incurring debt. This makes the high school degree meaningless and renders the entire project of building public schools and providing public education, defunct.
NOTE: The warped growth of an unnecessary and harmful administrative layer isn't unique to mass, centralized education. Finance and governmental services, especially so-called security and defense services after 9/11, have also expanded exponentially. Decentralization and strengthened services for citizens are sorely needed as these layers drive unnecessary and harmful economic activity and need anchored within the communities they should serve to be sustainable. Debt forgiveness is only the first step toward rebalancing the systems. For K-12 public schools, I advocate for open access and support for families as a way of refocusing institutional services and placing them on a more productive path in our. communities.