by Quyen Dinh, Annie Kuo, Cara Priestley, and Karissa Yee
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The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (the Partnership) seeks toimprove student achievement at 21 high-needs public schools in LosAngeles. It considers hiring quality teachers as the first step to improvinginstruction. Severe and ongoing cuts to school funding due to California’sbudget crisis have created a “new normal” in teacher hiring conditions, inwhich the majority of teacher vacancies are filled by internal candidatesbefore any external candidates can be considered. Internal candidates areLos Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) employees who have paidcontracts but have no school placements, and external candidates areindividuals who are new the District and are not yet on contract. Becausethese conditions will remain relevant for the foreseeable future, thePartnership will need to adjust to this “new normal” to hire the best possible teachers.
In the “new normal”, principals need permission from LAUSD HumanResources officials before they hire external candidates. While LAUSD hasstrong reasons to secure placement for these internal candidates, thisconflicts with principals’ desires to hire the best possible teachers.Additionally, principals hire under the real threat of not finding a suitablecandidate before school starts, which could lead them to hire undesirablecandidates in order to avoid a vacancy at the start of the year. Principalsalso feel pressured by the perceived threat of “forced placement” in whichthe District imposes a candidate on a school without the principal’sconsent. This tension drives a process of negotiation between thePartnership and the District to identify hiring flexibilities that will allow thePartnership schools to hire the candidates they want.
Our analysis finds that “new normal” hiring conditions present three keyproblems that prevent principals from hiring quality candidates in anefficient manner:
1) Partnership principals find it difficult to staff their schools suitably
with internal candidates due to the low quality of these candidates
and their unwillingness to teach in high-needs schools;
2) The “new normal” hiring conditions result in several inefficiencies
including the demand for significant principal and staff time, and a
lengthy process that leads to lost opportunities to hire quality
3) The current process requires employing strategies that are
unsustainable because of exclusive knowledge, key relationships,