Strain of nationwide teacher shortage being felt in Washington state

There’s a nationwide teacher shortage, and Washington state is not exempt.

As students gear up to head back into the classroom, some officials are scrambling to make sure someone will be there to teach them on the first day of school.

It’s a situation that the state’s Professional Educator Standards Board is calling a crisis.

In fact, a national survey from earlier this year found that 90% of educators felt “very” or “somewhat” burned out.

Data that KIRO 7 requested from Seattle Public Schools shows that between April and August of this year, 606 teachers left their jobs because of resignations, retirements, funding changes, and transfers.

At the beginning of this month, the district still had 121 openings.

KIRO 7 spoke with a Seattle teacher who shared some of the challenges that had her reconsidering her profession.

She said budget cuts at her school added to her workload.

Plus, schools were dealing with the pandemic challenges of online learning and returning to the classroom, on top of long-time issues like pay.

“I’ve always wanted to teach since I was little,” said Rachel Pendergast. “I never thought in a million years that I would (consider quitting), and I was. And I was like, ‘I’m not sure what to do.’”

She said she does not plan to quit, but at the same time, she can’t afford to live in Seattle and actually works two jobs.