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With Few Leadership Options, LA Teachers Drop Out

Brianna Sacks | July 18, 2013

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imagesDear Mayor of Los Angeles,” Educators 4 Excellence writes in the introduction of a new report that contends LAUSD’s most effective teachers don’t have enough leadership opportunities to keep them in their classrooms.

The new report, STEP: Supporting Teachers as Empowered Professionals, aims to reverse L.A. Unified’s high turnover rate, close to 50 percent according to a few studies. They’re leaving over low wages, poor working conditions and new teachers being assigned to the neediest schools without help or necessary resources.

Even teachers need teachers, says the report, which goes to say new teachers need social and emotional support while navigating through their first year in the system. They need to be observed, mentored and given feedback by veteran colleagues.

And when veteran teachers take on these mentorships and new leadership roles, they should have a lighter course or student load to ensure they can give ample time to newer teachers.

With most new teachers dropping out after their fifth year, these new resources and programs could slow attrition for the district, which costs the state about $450 million each year, according to the report.

“Our important work is to discover our students’ interests, spark their passion and help them grow. But teachers need our education leaders to do the same for us,” Educators 4 Excellence said in its message to Mayor Garcetti.

The 13 educators who devised the plan also recommend creating an Educator Entrepreneurship Grant to fund teacher-created projects, a more effective teacher induction program for new teachers and greater opportunities for seasoned, effective teachers to take on “hybrid roles” that include teaching and responsibilities outside of the classroom.

The plan is winning early support from Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy, along with LAUSD School Board members Monica Ratliff and Monica Garcia.

Teacher turnover rate and dissatisfaction is widespread. Less than half of teachers are satisfied with their jobs, reports Forbes, because current systems in many school districts prevent teachers from moving upward and taking on additional leadership roles in and outside the classroom.

This lack of opportunities for diverse engagement and advancement negatively affects teacher satisfaction, which is currently at a near-record low of 44 percent, with 46 percent of teachers leaving the profession within five years, says Forbes.

“As a relatively new teacher, entering my fourth year in the classroom, I did not receive some of the support at the beginning of my career that might have enabled me to be a more effective teacher for my students,” Christopher Records, one of the authors of the report, said in a commentary for PolicyMic.

The report says new teachers are often thrown into the system and are left to “sink or swim” without support or feedback, writes the group.

“I’ve seen too many of my colleagues leave the profession shortly after entering it, unsatisfied with the avenues to advancement available to them, Records said in his commentary. “The result of this is instability for students and schools, who yearly face the loss of good, strong educators.”

Previous posts: Board Candidates Differ on Teacher Retention, School Turnaround, Commentary: Teachers’ Letter to Mayor Garcetti

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