In Partnership with The 74

LAUSD Losing Fewer Teachers For Second Straight Year

Vanessa Romo | November 20, 2013



Board Member Steve Zimmer

Board Member Steve Zimmer

For the second year in a row, LA Unified is losing fewer teachers, and district projections indicate that the trend will continue through the current school year.

Vivian Ekchian, the district’s Chief Human Resources Officer, told a committee meeting yesterday that the trend is largely due to more diligent work at the front end of the hiring process. She said the district has revamped the interview system to include a lesson observation and an essay, and the district now requires that applicants have a degree in the subject matter they plan to teach.

Teachers leave their jobs for a variety of reasons, including retirement, dismissal and jobs in other districts.

Ekchian was one of several speakers at a meeting of the Committee of the Whole that was devoted to new strategies for training, hiring and retaining better teachers and including among new recruits teachers whose diversity more closely aligns with the diversity of district students.

The committee heard testimony that LA Unified loses 40 percent of new teachers after three years on the job, with those who leave reporting feeling unsupported in the classroom, undervalued, and under-prepared for the challenges of teaching in under performing schools.

This year the district hired 718 new teachers — mostly elementary and special education teachers — and has lost eight so far.

“We know we need to transform the concept of being a teacher, and that needs to start early in their training and in partnership with the district,” Steve Zimmer, chairman of the committee, said in an interview with LA School Report.

Zimmer said the issue is particularly urgent as baby-boomer teachers retire in greater numbers.

“And these are game changing numbers,” he said. “Three to five years from now we’ll have to replace 12 to 15 percent of the district’s teachers.”

The era of “horrific lay-offs” is over, he said, which is why “the district needs to start developing policies to recruit the next generation of teachers and ensure they stay in our classrooms.”

A spokeswoman for the teachers union, UTLA, declined to comment.

Ekchian told the committee that the district lost 2,641 teachers, about 7 percent of the workforce, through separation and retirement in the 2011-2012 school year and 1,896, (5 percent) last year. The projected loss for the current school year, she said, is 1,333. She did not provide a percentage.

Zimmer spoke passionately about the issues with an almost emotional welcoming statement, focusing on the importance of quality teachers. He admonished district officials who were absent, saying “I’m sad our Administration is not here to learn with us,” but he said nothing about the two board members who were also missing, Monica Garcia and Tamar Galatzan.

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