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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)

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday May 21 2023, @05:12PM (6 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday May 21 2023, @05:12PM (#1307235)

    >I would say it's not so much the baristas and sandwich makers that are critical, but police, fire, and sanitation are.

    I would agree, but in our political environment, the baristas and sandwich makers are feeding profits up the corporate chain, so they get forever promoted, enhanced, and improved in their wealth-redirection capabilities to take from their customers and send to their owners. There are some taxes skimmed from the process, but - like the lottery - I'd rather pay taxes directly for services than get some kind of low value entertainment with a layer of tax on top. At least the state lottery has a fat 50% tax burden, underpaid baristas and sandwich chefs are skating at the edge of poverty, potential part-time recipients of welfare that may actually consume as much tax revenue in supported housing, food and medical assistance as their part-time owners pay in taxes on their labors and profits derived therefrom. WalMart is the shining star example of how to get welfare to pay your employees so you don't have to.

    Police, fire, sanitation, and perhaps most critical of all in the long term: education, are, instead, paid begrudgingly out of taxes, and therefore they get forever squeezed, reduced to the bare minimums, and in the words of our local school board member "they will not spend one dollar that they are not absolutely required to by law."

    >We might solve a lot of problems if we finally drive a stake through the heart of work in the office.

    Lots and lots of people won't like this one. To make it stick, we're going to have to change how our education system works, away from 13 years of direct oversight in the classroom training into some kind of more independent learning / work model. In my high school of 1200 pupils (counting all 4 years, graduating class size was around 210 - which if you can divide 990 by 3 should tell you something about the dropout rate...) In that population, there were a precious few "independent study" programs (maybe 30 students participating at any given time) that I feel served as a good work-from-home preparatory teaching style. I had Independent Study computer science one year, in which the regular comp-sci class was taught in one half of a divided room, and 5 or 6 independent study kids were in the other - laboratory - half of the room, so the teacher had basic safety/discipline oversight, but we did our own things with the computers - which the 1983 administration openly acknowledged was "because you kids know more about these things than any teacher we have, so you might as well teach yourselves something instead of causing trouble in the basic classroom."

    People need to learn, most easily from an early age, how to be transparent about what they are doing, how to demonstrate value beyond "presenteeism," and a bunch of other stuff that a lot of our workforce is ill-equipped to teach themselves, and management even less well equipped to recognize / work with.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Sunday May 21 2023, @08:58PM (5 children)

    by sjames (2882) on Sunday May 21 2023, @08:58PM (#1307251) Journal

    It's a worst kept secret that U.S. public education was designed around conditioning students to work in a factory and teaching them enough to be useful but not enough to become 'difficult'.

    It may have crept from that mission somewhat since then, but without changing the fundamental structure of it, it still has that character to it.

    As a start, homework should be replaced with OPTIONAL exercises that students should do until they (and their parents) feel that they have learned the material. A test should provide feedback on the quality of their self assessment. Especially in primary grades, they should get a chance to try again if their assessment was wrong. In later years, they should gain greater independence. Essentially, school should teach HOW to learn and guide what needs to be learned as well as suggest other things that may be of interest.

    There will be other adjustments elsewhere. Many places will have to get over the city as an office park mentality if they want to continue to exist. They'll alsy have to do something about the many buildings in permanent limbo where the rent is too high to ever allow profitable occupancy by a business but can't be lowered or the bank will foreclose. Some of those buildings are already past the point of no return due to over a decade of neglect and damage by rats, roaches, and junkies (their only occupants). Others may yet be rehabilitated. The music stopped years ago and now everyone involved is nervously shuffling around in a circle whistling and hoping nobody notices. The chair to butt ratio is probably less than 50% by now.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday May 21 2023, @09:36PM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday May 21 2023, @09:36PM (#1307257)

      >school should teach HOW to learn

      Shhhh!!!! The whole reason my single income is double the median household income is because the role inherently requires self teaching / independent learning / self management and there's precious little competition in the workforce with those skills.

        >guide what needs to be learned

      It seems to me that the core BS curriculum is intended to provide a common experience for BS holders to relate to each other through (and conversely: shut out those who are ignorant of the inside jokes.)

      >The music stopped years ago...

      Decades ago in Japan. Coupled with population decline they continue to have interesting developments in their real estate market, like $25K USD homes near Tokyo... Still, the Japanese quality of life doesn't seem to be declining.

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      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday May 22 2023, @03:05AM (1 child)

        by sjames (2882) on Monday May 22 2023, @03:05AM (#1307282) Journal

        WRT Japan, obviously in Japan the real estate bubble has been allowed to pop or at least deflate considerably. We face a real quality of life problem if the bubble isn't allowed to deflate here as well.

        Honestly, if we yell stop whistling and find a seat, even the ones who end up on the floor are unlikely to need a food bank even if they take a large haircut. But forcing that might help a lot of people who do currently need a food bank or might soon.

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday May 22 2023, @10:00AM

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday May 22 2023, @10:00AM (#1307301)

          >might help a lot of people who do currently need a food bank or might soon.

          Oh, you mean the lazy, stupid, or otherwise undeserving poor who deserve to suffer as an example to motivate the masses? /S

          The truly stupid (and lazy) in the US are those who think they are making their own lives better by hurting their neighbors. That's how you make a 3rd world shit hole: wealth disparity. Even the rich in a bad place are nowhere near as successful as the middle class in a good place, and the goodness of a place is properly rated by the quality of life of all the people, not just the top 2%.

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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by ChrisMaple on Monday May 22 2023, @03:56AM (1 child)

      by ChrisMaple (6964) on Monday May 22 2023, @03:56AM (#1307283)

      Whose fault is it that U.S. students can't name the 3 branches of government or the first President? It's not that they're not taught, it's that they're slackers, and their parents let them be slackers.

      Most schools separate students by performance. Even those of average intelligence can be in the top group if they are ambitious. Those in the top performance groups read Shakespeare, those in the middle read Heller and other modern crap, those at the bottom drop out. Those in the top group are NOT conditioned to work in a factory, those at the bottom are good for little else; both groups are self-selected. (There are many exceptions, that's just the trend.)

      It's rare - about 1 in 100 - that a student below the age of 18 is self-directed enough for homework to be optional. Most don't want to be in school and resent having to learn; optional homework means no work.

      I'm sick of hearing that schools should teach how to learn. It's a cliché without meaning. How to learn is inherent in schooling: pay attention to the teacher, apply what you've heard or read when you do an assignment.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday May 22 2023, @06:34AM

        by sjames (2882) on Monday May 22 2023, @06:34AM (#1307289) Journal

        Remedial or advanced doesn't matter, when the bell rings you are to move to the next work station. The advanced students may read an expurgated version of Shakespeare translated (sometimes poorly) to modern English, but the discussion still comes down to "and THEN what happened boys and girls?".

        What you described isn't learning how to learn, it's learning how to be bored to tears while being spoon fed bare facts without context.

        Being self-directed is probably rare because the kids didn't learn how to learn starting from the primary grades. Being spoon fed without context for 12 years is enough to make anyone resentful, especially people who actually somehow figured out self-directed learning and actually enjoy learning. Nobody enjoys having cardboard tasting soggy cereal shoved in their mouth repeatedly.