Parents and students across the D.C. region are getting ready for the start of the school year, but some area schools some are still working to fill teacher openings.
FOX 5 reached out to several school districts across the area about current teacher openings and learned there are currently hundreds of unfilled positions. The list includes about 300 openings in D.C., about 400 in Montgomery County, about 500 in Fairfax County, and about 100 in Arlington.
FOX 5 spoke with the heads of the teachers unions' in D.C. and Montgomery County to learn more about what is happening.
They say they’ve seen an increase in retirements and people leaving the profession altogether, particularly people who are between the ages of 25 and 39.
Washington Teachers Union President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons tells FOX 5 being a teacher has always been challenging, but returning to the classroom with the social-emotional needs of students who did virtual learning, combined with learning loss made for an even tougher working environment.
Pogue Lyons says teachers under 40 tend to see their peers making more in other professions or districts, prompting them to seek out changes.
"Our teachers are between the age of 25 and 39 on average, and they’re thinking about other career opportunities or what other opportunities exist in other districts, and we’re so close to other locales that could easily go somewhere else and teach," Pogue Lyons tells FOX 5.
Montgomery County Education Association President, Jennifer Martin, reinforced the point.
"We need better working conditions. It’s been incredibly hard over, really, the past decade or more, it’s become increasingly difficult as more and more has been piled on our plates. And when you couple that with the struggles that COVID has caused and we are really in a dire situation," said Martin.
Several area schools districts tell FOX 5 that they are hosting job fairs and offering incentives as they try to attract talent, but expect the shortages to be an ongoing challenge moving forward.