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posted by janrinok on Sunday May 21 2023, @08:37AM   Printer-friendly

Study finds 90% of Australian teachers can't afford to live where they teach:

The teaching profession is already struggling with shortages and a lack of new candidates in a situation widely regarded as a crisis. Now, research warns that teachers are being priced out of housing near their schools, with many areas even too expensive for educators at the top of the pay scale.

The study, published recently in The Australian Educational Researcher analyzed quarterly house sales and rental reports in New South Wales (NSW) and found more than 90% of teaching positions across the state—around 50,000 full-time roles—are located in Local Government Areas (LGAs) where housing is unaffordable on a teacher's salary.

The situation is particularly dire for new teachers. There are 675 schools—nearly 23,000 full-time teaching positions—where the median rent for a one-bedroom place is unaffordable on a graduate teacher's salary.

Housing is considered unaffordable if a person spends more than 30% of their income on housing costs—sometimes called being in housing stress. Those in housing stress may not have enough money remaining to cover the cost of food, clothing, and other essentials.

But affordability isn't just an issue for early career teachers. For experienced educators at the top of the pay scale, 70 schools—about 2,000 full-time roles—are in an LGA where a single-bedroom dwelling is also unaffordable.

"The study shows the last time a first-year teacher salary could comfortably afford the rent for a one-bedroom dwelling was around a decade ago," says Professor Scott Eacott, the author of the study and Deputy Director of the Gonski Institute for Education at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture.

"Fundamentally, there's been an increasing gap between salary and the costs of housing that the standard pay rise isn't covering, and it's pushing teachers further away from their workplaces or out of the profession entirely.

"The issue is not just limited to teachers, but all essential workers who are increasingly finding it difficult to find affordable places to live within a reasonable distance of their

"The school system is struggling to find enough teachers as it is," Prof. Eacott says. "If teachers can't afford to live near or within reasonable commuting distance of their schools, we can only expect those shortfalls to continue to grow."

[...] Prof. Eacott says part of the challenge is that no single government department or the private sector is ultimately responsible for housing essential workers. While more investment from superannuation funds in essential worker housing developments is welcome, it won't be enough to address the issue at scale.

"The simple answer is we do need to be paying teachers more. But that may not necessarily solve supply problems," Prof. Eacott says. "For example, it is just incredibly difficult right now for teachers to find a place to rent given record low vacancy rates.

"It's also important that we're not confining teachers to just teacher apartments, but creating pathways to home ownership."

[...] "We rely so much on our teachers, so it's only fair we take steps towards providing them and other essential workers with affordable and secure housing options," Prof. Eacott says.

Journal Reference:
Eacott, Scott. The systemic implications of housing affordability for the teacher shortage: the case of New South Wales, Australia [open], The Australian Educational Researcher (DOI: 10.1007/s13384-023-00621-z)

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  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday May 21 2023, @03:49PM

    by VLM (445) on Sunday May 21 2023, @03:49PM (#1307227)

    Doing arithmetic is a revolutionary act in an innumerate culture... 23K teachers across 675 schools is abt 35 teachers per school. I would guess most schools are elementary, similar to where I live. I went to the largest elementary school in my district and it only had 24 or so teachers, IIRC two floors two wings six classrooms per wing. Now this was a pretty big elementary school with around 3 classes per grade. The remainder of teachers were specials, the music room, the art room, the gym teachers, library, etc.

    Possibly there's some effect similar to our giant middle and high schools in the USA.

    Possibly they are adding "teachers aids" in as "teachers". The point of my math problem above is there's an underclass system in K12 education at least in my state where the teacher hauls in a pretty large salary, but the teachers aides are mostly new grads earning less than fast food wages. I wonder if we're seeing something like this effect behind the propaganda.

    Another interesting effect is the wages are very low in my state now. When I was a kid, teaching was a life long profession and you'd often have grandparent aged teachers retiring from the classroom. Now the average teacher age is in the 20s, burn em out and replace them. So offering $125K for a teacher with 40 yrs experience doesn't matter if 90% of the teachers at your kids middle school are only in their 20s.

    People keep signing up for K12 ed degrees because there's now more behind the scenes admins (highly paid admins...) than classroom teachers. You're "not supposed" to make middle age or late career pay in a classroom, behind every classroom teacher there's now more than one employee with a title like department chair, diversity officer, curriculum advisor, asst principal, principal, etc. So classroom teachers are "supposed to" only get a first job pittance of a salary on their way to the district office once they're 30 or so. If you're in the K12 racket you're supposed to escape the classroom by 30 or take up an entirely new field, go into real estate, get a second degree such as the Mrs. degree, etc.

    Its kind of like being in the Army. Back in 1900, 1915, 1923, most people "in the army" were front line-ish infantry. Now a days most are not. Tooth to tail ratio and all that.

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