California has tens of billions more in funding for its TK-12 schools. Is that enough to keep teachers from leaving?

By Angella Martinez

The Legislative Analyst’s recent estimate of a $33 billion budget surplus for California’s TK-12 public schools is great news. But it takes more than money to keep our classrooms running — it takes people.

If policymakers fail to use this surplus of funds to attract and retain educators, to build up a profession that has been battered by Covid, we will lose the talented individuals we need to lead our schools and educate our kids.

Schools have been hemorrhaging staff since before the pandemic. In 2019, 4 out of 5 California school districts didn’t have enough teachers. In the first year of the pandemic, the number of California teachers choosing to retire increased by 26%. State data mirrors national trends. A November 2021 survey found that 48% of teachers nationwide had considered quitting within the last 30 days. Of that group, 34% were thinking about leaving the profession altogether.

State leaders need a concrete plan to bolster the teaching profession and to care for the teachers who care for California’s children. Fortunately, a group of teachers has developed one. The Teacher Care Package was created by a working group of teachers and leadership team members at KIPP SoCal Public Schools, a network of 23 schools in Southern California where I serve as CEO. The Teacher Care Package is a set of wraparound incentives to encourage talented individuals to pursue a career in teaching and ensure our schools retain hardworking, effective teachers.

By using the influx of funding to implement this package, state legislators and school district leaders can show educators — with actions rather than rhetoric — that California truly values them.

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