Despite Obama’s Demands For More Teachers, Classroom Sizes Are Actually Shrinking


According to the Obama administration, the best way to stimulate the private sector is to grow the government. “[W]e need to accelerate job creation in the private sector,” Obama’s chief strategist David Axelrod told CNN. “One of the ways that we can do that is putting teachers and firefighters and police back to work because those are good middle-class jobs.”

Economically speaking, Axelrod comments don’t make any sense, yet they’re still compelling because…who is against firefighters and teachers?

To hear Axelrod tell it, we’re employing fewer teachers. But is that really true? Noel Sheppard does the math, and finds out it isn’t true at all:

In 1960, there were 1.4 million public school teachers educating 36.3 million primary and secondary students. This represented a ratio of one teacher per 25.8 pupils.

In 2009, there were 3.2 million teachers – a 129 percent rise – educating 49.3 million students – a 36 percent rise. This represented a ratio of one teacher per 15.6 students.

You read that correctly: despite all the media carping and whining, average class size in this country has dropped by over ten students or 40 percent in the last 50 years.

By the way, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of firefighters is expected to grow by 9% and police officer employment by 7%.

I know inflating the government payroll would be great news for President Obama’s allies in the public worker unions, but it’s not what will get the economy going.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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