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Opinion: America Has Too Many Teachers


President Obama said last month that America can educate its way to prosperity if Congress sends money to states to prevent public school layoffs and “rehire even more teachers,” says Andrew Coulson for the Wall Street Journal. Mitt Romney was having none of it, invoking “the message of Wisconsin” and arguing that the solution to our economic woes is to cut the size of government and shift resources to the private sector. Mr. Romney later stated that he wasn’t calling for a reduction in the teacher force—but perhaps there would be some wisdom in doing just that. Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers’ aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970, American taxpayers would save about $210 billion annually in personnel costs. Or would they? Stanford economist Eric Hanushek has shown that better-educated students contribute substantially to economic growth…

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