Fair Wages Now

LA’s high cost of living is causing a teacher shortage. LAUSD must offer teachers a fair wage increase.

I’m an elementary school teacher, which means I have a multiple-subject credential that allows me to teach multiple grades. I live in East Hollywood, and have a second grader and a 10th grader at LAUSD public schools. For the past four years, I’ve had to work a second job as a Lyft driver because my salary alone doesn’t cover all of my expenses—including the expense of being a teacher! Every August, I spend $500-$800 to prepare for the start of the school year. This year, for the first time, I have had to ask for help with paying for school supplies. So far I have raised $150 to pay for a carpet for my classroom. To live in this city and have a family, teachers need a livable and professional wage. I want the district to attract talented and passionate young people who are committed to teaching in Los Angeles for the long haul. But it doesn’t feel like LAUSD is making our jobs—or our students’ education—a priority.

Holly Laurine Jackson

Teacher, Mack Elementary School

Just the Facts

According to a recent national poll, Americans overwhelmingly agree that teachers like Holly don’t make enough money.1This year, an unprecedented wave of teacher activism has swept the nation. Mass protests were staged in several states over issues like low pay and the lack of funding for public schools.

Public school teacher salaries and benefits have been eroding relative to other professions for over a decade.In 1994, public school teachers were earning only 1.8% less than college graduates in other fields; by 2015, the gap was 17%.In Los Angeles, public school teachers are grappling with the skyrocketing cost of living in Southern California, which has increased 27% since 2006.Declining wages have pushed LAUSD’s public school teachers into longer commutes or into neighboring districts where pay is higher. Some are leaving the profession altogether.Low salaries lead to high teacher turnover and critical shortages: 80% of California districts reported teacher shortages in 2017.Last year, LAUSD was unable to fill all of its vacant teaching positions with fully credentialed instructors.Teacher shortages disproportionately affect students from low-in- come families and students of color, “exacerbating persistent achievement gaps between these students and their more affluent peers.” No teacher should be forced to take on a second job—or stop teaching altogether—because LAUSD does not pay fair wages. Teachers deserve a salary that shows respect for their profession and their value to our children’s lives.


1 The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, “American Attitudes Toward Teacher Pay and Protests.” 19 Apr. 2018

2 Allegretto, S.A., Corcoran, S.P., & Mishel, L., “The Teaching Penalty Teacher Pay Losing Ground” Economic Policy Institute (EPI). 2008. p.22

3 Allegretto, S.A., & Mishel, L., “The teacher pay gap is wider than ever.” Economic Policy Institute (EPI). 9 Aug. 2016 

4 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Consumer Price Index” CPI 2006-2018 

5 Sacks, G., “Meeting UTLA demands will make our LAUSD schools better.” Los Angeles Daily News. 27 Jun. 2018 

6 Carver-Thomas, D., Darling-Hammond, L., & Sutcher, L., “Understaffed and Underprepared: California Districts Report Ongoing Teacher Shortages.” Learning Policy Institute (LPI). Research Brief. Feb. 2018. p. 1

7 Ibid p.9

8 Ibid p.1