Skip to main content

The problem with hiring coaches in the L.A. public school system



According to the Los Angeles Times, 58 percent of coaches at the 83 Los Angeles Unified School District high schools are "walk-ons," the term used to describe part-time, non-certified employees. Those among that 58 percent that coach football earn a $2,811 stipend annually.

A high school football coach works, conservatively, six days a week at 26 weeks a year. That's roughly $100 a week, $16 and change a day. Considering gas prices and other realities life in Los Angeles presents, the LAUSD provides gas money for three out of every five coaches and not much else.

On one hand, coaching for one rung above free weeds out anyone who doesn't want to be there. On the other, the Los Angeles public school system places a minimal investment into the group of people asked to develop its young men.

And aspiring young coaches need not apply. Writes Eric Sondheimer of the L.A. Times: "One of the big hurdles is that hiring a new physical education teacher-coach is very difficult because jobs are scarce and there's a long waiting list of displaced P.E. teachers in the district that have priority over any new hires. Promising young coaches have to wait at the back of the line."

It creates a system where LAUSD's brightest young coaches are leaving the district or bypassing it altogether, leaving the students to feel the consequences. "Walk-ons don't have the same access to students during the school day as teachers," Sondheimer writes. "They can't monitor academics or discipline issues as closely as teachers. If someone wants to make additional money while teaching, anything but coaching is more lucrative, from tutoring to coaching travel teams."

While there are undoubtedly talented, dedicated coaches within the L.A. public schools, coaching is a lot like anything else in life: you get out what you put in. And when LAUSD puts next to no incentive for new coaches to join its ranks, what result is it expecting to yield?

Read more here.