Addressing our state’s teacher shortage

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Washington state is experiencing teacher shortages in 16 subject areas, including many of the sciences. In multiple surveys in recent years, more than 90 percent of school district human resource directors and principals have said they’re either in “crisis mode” or “struggling” when it comes to finding qualified certified candidates for teaching positions.

It’s a problem 4th District Rep. Bob McCaslin was born to solve. As a public school teacher for more than three decades, McCaslin has taught thousands of students to use creativity and outside-the-box thinking to achieve their goals. During the 2017 session, he took the opportunity to apply that lesson on a personal level and introduced a bill to help solve the state’s teacher shortage in an unconventional way.

Under McCaslin’s House Bill 1654, which passed both chambers unanimously and was signed into law in April 2017, the state’s Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) will be tasked with creating new alternative routes for individuals who are already working in the school system – but do not yet have a teaching certificate – to transition to full-time teaching.
Nearly 400 individuals with expertise in a variety of fields are currently enrolled in the state’s four existing programs, but McCaslin believes allowing the PESB to develop new routes could boost that number significantly. Enabling school districts to bring these highly talented individuals into the classroom much more quickly will not only bring immediate benefit to students, but it will also provide much-needed relief to overburdened teachers and administrators.

While optimistic about the passage and implementation of House Bill 1654, McCaslin knows there’s much more work to do to solve the state’s teacher shortage. He’s working on legislation to incentivize more individuals to join and remain in the profession he’s loved for the past three decades.