Nearly 70% of teachers within the Los Angeles Unified School District have seriously considered leaving the teaching profession as a result of working conditions within the district, according to a report from a prominent teachers’ union.
The report, compiled by United Teachers Los Angeles and titled "Burned Out, Priced Out: Solutions to the Educator Shortage Crisis," stated that the high cost of living in Los Angeles, along with burnout, has driven nearly 70% of teachers to consider a different line of work.
In addition, at least 28% of teachers in the district have had to take a second job to cover their expenses and 60% of teachers who have worked in the district for at least 20 years are still not able to cover their cost of living.
The study contained a graphic showing an apple that is progressively whittled down to just its core after bites of "starting salary," "student loan debt," "housing affordability," "buying supplies," and "increased cost of living" are taken out.
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"For two decades, academics and policymakers have persistently warned of an ongoing and alarming national teacher shortage while a bipartisan political campaign has been waged against professionalism and greater spending on public education," the report stated. "During the pandemic, this crisis has moved from a warning to an acute, everyday reality. Veteran educators are retiring in massive numbers. Early and mid-career educators are burned out and have been pushed to their breaking point. And the educator labor pipeline is running dry."
The report also outlined three major reasons why teachers are leaving the profession with one being that teachers are being used as a "scapegoat" by lawmakers and political pundits when communities don’t thrive.
"Historic underinvestment and deliberate barriers put into place in many of our neighborhoods have kept our communities from thriving," the report stated. "Schools and educators alone cannot overcome decades of disinvestment."
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The report also took issue with standardized testing and claimed that the government is "micro-managing performance metrics on public school classrooms — as if reducing teachers’ autonomy and control over their work can achieve what should be a society-wide project of greater investment in our communities."
Thirdly, the report outlined several ways that the starting salary for teachers in the district is out of line with other similar professions.
"As two decades of data have accumulated, most recent findings from economists are shocking," the study said. "Whereas in the late 1990s public school teachers earned 6% less in annual income than their peers in occupations requiring similar skills and education, by 2019 the penalty had grown to 19.2%."
The report comes at the same time that 50,000 students in the district, about 11% of the total student population, were absent on the first day of school.
The absences follow two years of coronavirus lockdowns and learning loss that experts say have contributed to mass dropouts and significant harm to children.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for the L.A. Unified School District said it "acknowledges that economic conditions, including insufficient pay, critical hardships and the COVID-19 pandemic, have complicated teacher recruitment nationwide."
The district says it has implemented "research-based hiring strategies" that include offering early contracts for teachers, providing hiring incentives, and developing partnerships with local institutions of higher education.
"In addition, Los Angeles Unified is broadening our partnerships to develop new opportunities for families and employees, which directly target housing affordability, working conditions and benefit packages," the statement said. "The District remains committed to leveraging all resources to strengthen school communities as the premier urban school district in the nation."