Washington teachers face job shortage

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by By TRICIA MANNING-SMITH / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 12:59 PM

Video: Washington teachers face job shortage

REDMOND, Wash. - Washington state budget cuts will result in expected layoff notices for many local teachers this week.

Most state school districts must let teachers know by May 15 if they'll have a job next fall, but the pending layoffs are having a trickle down impact on some recent college grads.

Abigail Yokers sprinted through college at a blistering pace, finishing in only three years. She's a highly praised Dean's List student who had no doubt of a good job offer.

"You walk across to get your diploma, (thinking) 'Yes, I can conquer the world. I can do anything,'" said Yokers, a Northwest University graduate. "Then you walk down the steps - 'There's nothing out there for me.'"

"It's very daunting looking ahead. There are really no open positions at all," she added.

Yokers and friend Meghan Harrold, who also graduated from Northwest University, are both now unemployed.

"They always say, 'Oh we need good teachers,'" said Harrold. "I'm a good teacher, but there are no jobs for me."

New college graduates are launching into an impossible job market where state unemployment is already nearly 10 percent.

Additionally, Washington's state legislature recently delivered cuts of over $1 billion to public schools and higher education. Layoff are pending.

"You're probably looking at 7,000 - 8,000 total state employees. That includes state government, K-12 teachers and our higher education institutions," said Sen. Rodney Tom, (D) 48th Legislative District.

New teachers may find themselves competing against newly laid-off experienced educators for very few positions. Yokers and Harrold are even bracing for tough competition for substitute jobs. Yet, even as they worry how to repay their college loans, they have greater worries for students.

"Beyond myself and wanting to find a job, it's frightening to think about what will happen to kids if they can't get the education they need," said Yokers.

Meanwhile, Forbes magazine predicts that new college grads will have the best chance of finding new jobs in some high tech and financial sectors.

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