Why This Matters
After nearly two years marked by complete disruption to our school system, returning to the status quo is unfathomable. With a new superintendent and new needs coming out of the pandemic, L.A. is uniquely positioned to make improvements at the district level that will increase equity and excellence for our students. This report dives into some of the top issues facing our district, including how we can start to rebuild after loss, the recruitment and retention of diverse and talented staff, and the ongoing reckoning with racism and what that looks like in the classroom. Superintendent Carvahlo’s upcoming Strategic Plan for 2022 through 2026 must take LAUSD teachers’ perspectives into consideration; this report gives him direct line of sight into them.
We want to thank our incredible group of Los Angeles teachers who shaped this survey. Their insights into their classrooms were essential to ensure this report accurately represents the voices and experiences of teachers during this unparalleled time.
The Voices from the Classroom – Los Angeles 2022 survey questionnaire was developed by 15 Educators for Excellence teacher members from across the United States. The instrument was written and administered by Gotham Research Group, an independent research firm, and conducted online from January 11 through February 14, 2022, among a sample of 110 full-time public school teachers in Los Angeles. Note that all survey results are presented as percentages and, due to rounding, may not always add up to 100 percent.
Major Trends and Findings
The nation is in agreement that the pandemic has had a severe impact on the mental health of young people. LA teachers agree: 70% rated their students’ mental health as worse than before the pandemic. They believe hiring more counselors and mental health providers is the best way to support students social-emotionally (74%).
Additionally, students have fallen significantly behind where they were academically nationwide. 61% of LA teachers said that their students were academically behind where they were before the pandemic.
And, teachers report that their schools are not meeting the needs of particular subgroups of students:
- Non-native speakers of English (only 50% yes)
- Homeless students and foster youth (only 43% yes)
- Students who have experienced trauma (only 35% yes)
- LGBTQ+ students (only 24% yes)
LA educators are excited about the possibility of changes under Superintendent Carvahlo, and identified increasing resources for high needs students and schools as the top priority for him moving forward (55%).
Counter to the national narrative that teachers are planning to resign en masse, Voices from the Classroom – Los Angeles shows that most teachers remain committed to staying in the classroom long-term: 86% of LA teachers report they are likely to stay for their entire career, in line with the 86% of teachers who reported this nationally.
Increasing starting salaries has long been noted as a clear way to increase teacher recruitment and retention; data from Voices from the Classroom – Los Angeles confirms this to an extent. Sixty-five percent of LA educators believe higher salaries are paramount to keeping teachers in the classroom. Additionally, 42 percent said that making it easier to leave and return to teaching without losing retirement benefits, seniority, or other non-retirement benefits would be most likely to attract talented and diverse educators to the field.
A debate over whether schools should be a place to talk about controversial issues, especially about our nation’s historical and current racial injustices, has captured the entire nation’s attention. Los Angeles teachers overwhelmingly agree that school is the place for these conversations. They think the issues of race, racism, and the history of underrepresented populations should be taught in the classroom.
- Racial inequality in America’s past (93% yes)
- Racial and cultural differences in America (92% yes)
- Racial inequality that exists today in America (90% yes)
- Personal experiences students have had with inequality and racism (90% yes)
- Systemic racism in America’s institutions and society (90% yes)
Despite this, only 37% of LA educators agreed that “our curricula are culturally relevant for our student population.”
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National 2022 Teacher Survey