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LAUSD should adopt 5 policies to prioritize hiring in highest-needs schools, report says

Faced with “a major vacancy crisis,” Los Angeles Unified must make hiring a priority in its highest-need schools in order to prevent another cycle that perpetuates inequities throughout the district, a nonprofit organization urged in a policy brief.

The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which runs schools serving 13,200 students within LAUSD, released “Closing the Equity Gap in School Staffing” on Monday. While addressing LAUSD specifically, the brief said that its five recommendations could apply to other districts in which all schools compete equally for talent. “Fundamental changes are needed to make teaching at highest-need schools more attractive, sustainable and effective in the long run,” it said, adding, the district “must make a clear moral commitment” to prioritize Black and Latino students in the city’s highest-need schools.

The report said that, consistent with teacher shortages statewide, LAUSD had more than 10,000 unfilled vacancies among teachers and classified positions as of October. This included 7,000 new positions to address serious student needs, including psychiatric social workers, counselors and classroom teachers to help reduce class sizes; more than half of those were unfilled.

In past cycles, such as rehiring after the Great Recession, highest-need schools ended up with the most permanent substitute teachers, the least experienced and often underqualified teachers, the report said. Its authors are Deycy Hernandez, senior vice president of policy and advocacy, and Chase Stafford, vice president of policy and planning, at the partnership.

Its five recommendations are:

  • Limiting hiring at low-need schools until highest-need schools are staffed.
  • Doubling the support provided to highest-need schools for staffing.
  • Giving “red carpet” treatment to teachers going to highest-need schools, such as larger stipends to National Board Certified teachers, and continuing recruitment and retention stipends for all credentialed teachers.
  • Focusing investments in the pipeline on educators of color and highest-need schools.
  • Transforming working conditions for staff at highest-need schools through differentiating pay for teachers at highest-need schools, reducing class sizes and course loads and providing full-time coaches to support teachers.