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Near 70% of LA Teachers Considering Leaving Profession

Union president says district is experiencing 'a critical crisis right now'

A new report from United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) found that nearly 70 percent of teachers within the LA Unified School District (LAUSD) have considered leaving the education profession.

According to the UTLA survey data, a key reason educators are considering leaving their profession is the pressure of increased expectations without community investment. Teachers often believe they are scapegoats who allow policymakers and pundits to “blame so-called failing schools” so those lawmakers and commentators do not have to address issues that hold students back — the job market, poverty, low wages, housing insecurity, and poor healthcare.

Teachers also reported a “litany of standardized tests and micro-managing performance metrics” as a hindrance to their effectiveness in the classroom and a major contributor to low morale. The report cites the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, which requires ranking public schools according to standardized test scores.

Inadequate compensation is the third major issue driving many away from teaching. Educators cite a “wage penalty” in the field of education, which means teachers will earn less in annual income and lifetime earnings than they would in another position that requires similar education and skills.

“It was so stressful, but necessary in order to be able to cover the pay gap. The compensation was just a lot lower than expected,” high school English teacher Gina Gray told The Guardian. “In Los Angeles county, especially in LA, the costs are enormous. Most teachers can’t even afford rent, let alone to purchase property with just a teacher’s salary.”

UTLA’s survey found that 28 percent of educators in the district needed to work a second job to make ends meet.

The Guardian reports that in the first half of 2022, LA had the highest rental prices in the nation, with a median price of $4,664 per month for a single family home.

The report shows that the average salary for an LAUSD teacher was between $74,000 and $79,000 ($6,166 to $6,583 per month). Those figures are roughly $20,000 per year lower than the average annual salary for bachelor’s degree-holding workers in LA.

“Since the pandemic, I have seen some of the best, most dedicated teachers I know stop teaching due to the exhaustion of being a teacher full time and having to work a second job just to make ends meet,” Gray told a local Fox Affiliate. “The labor of teachers is often dismissed as an act of service but the truth is that teachers are real workers who ensure our communities are surviving while also dealing with rising rents, inflation and shrinking resources.”

The report calls for five solutions:

1. Increase pay

2. Smaller class sizes and more support

3. End over-testing of students

4. Equity for schools and communities

5. Expand community schools and targeted support

“We’re at a critical crisis right now where you have educators bearing the brunt in this profession of not being treated as professionals,” said Cecily Myart-Cruz, the president of UTLA. “The wages are just not livable.”

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