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'Running Short of Good Teachers'

July 05, 1985

I read with great interest Assemblyman Tom Hayden's article (Editorial Pages, June 24), "Running Short of Good Teachers." United Teachers-Los Angeles concurs with Hayden's opinion that the teacher shortage at this time is at drastic proportions and will get increasingly worse over the years.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is projecting a teacher shortage of about 3,000 for the 1985-86 school year. The average teacher age in Los Angeles is 52, and there will be massive retirements in the L.A. school system within the next five years.

As Hayden pointed out in his article, fewer and fewer people are choosing teaching as a career. For teachers the reasons are obvious. Salaries are not competitive with other professions with similar educational backgrounds, and teaching conditions are even worse.

The Los Angeles Unified School District can only guarantee you a low teaching salary, overcrowded classes, hot and/or cold classrooms depending on the weather, inadequate materials and supplies, mountains of meaningless paper work, and hours of non-instructional supervision per week: all for a beginning salary of $19,000 for a minimum of 5 years of college and a maximum of $32,000 for as many as 30 years of teaching experience.

If Los Angeles and California is to have the quality teaching staff that it needs for the future generations, salaries and professional teaching conditions, with teacher input into educational decisions must improve dramatically in the very near future. If this does not happen, the educational crisis in California will soon become the "educational disaster in California."

WAYNE JOHNSON

Los Angeles

Johnson is president of United Teachers-Los Angeles.

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