March 2022

Closing the Equity Gap in School Staffing: How LA Unified Can Address Teacher Shortages for Students of Color and High-Need Schools

In this policy brief, we look at how LA Unified has been impacted by the national teacher shortage crisis. We find that while vacancies have been widespread – more than 10,000 vacant positions overall – the impact has been deepest in the schools where the need is greatest. High-need schools and schools serving the most Black students have been particularly affected – with twice as many teacher vacancies at highest-need schools compared with lowest-need schools. This continues a long-standing pattern of inequitable staffing outcomes that must be remedied.

Our brief offers specific recommendations for what LA Unified and other school districts can do to ensure that in the next school year and in the years ahead, LA Unified students do not experience the same issue. Our overarching recommendation is that LA Unified must act with urgency to address staffing inequities and must dramatically differentiate support for highest-need schools. Below, you’ll find our five key recommendations and you can read the full details of each recommendation in our policy brief.

1. Limit hiring at low-need schools until highest-need schools are staffed
2. Double the support provided to highest-need schools for staffing
3. Give “red carpet” treatment to teachers going to highest-need schools
4. Focus investments in the pipeline on educators of color and highest-need schools
5. Transform working conditions for staff at highest-need schools