Hidden Outrages in Overseas Teacher Recruitment
A new report released by the American Federation of Teachers reminds us of a topic education writers like me almost never address---the unseemly side of the recruitment of teachers abroad for U.S. schools. The AFT report, "Importing Educators: Causes and Consequences of International Teacher Recruitment," has some shocking disclosures, and deserves a close reading.
The report says that one recruiter for overseas-educated teachers in Newark, N.J., forced recruits to sign a contract obligating them to kick back 25 percent of their salaries to the recruiter. Other recruiters gouged the teachers they were allegedly helping with 60 percent interest rate loans. Some forbade them to own cars. Some placed the newly arrived teachers in overcrowded, unfinished housing, the report said.
The AFT was smart to start their press release on the report with this true statement: "The growing number of overseas-educated teachers in U.S. schools has put many talented educators in classrooms." Then it added the concerns that the unscrupulous recruiting has raised.
This is something for school boards and citizens to investigate in cities that have recruited many teachers from abroad. It is another reason why we should celebrate groups like Teach For America that are working hard to persuade more Americans to consider teaching in those districts that have the greatest shortages.
The best teacher I ever saw in action, the man who turned me into an education reporter, was educated in Bolivia, and taught there until he moved to the U.S. when he was 34. He was NOT recruited by anyone. His wife hoped that moving him to America would persuade him to stop teaching, which she thought was beneath him. His name is Jaime Escalante. If anyone had tried any of these recruiter stunts on him, they would have regretted it for the rest of their lives. He was, and still is in retirement, a tough guy, who spent 10 years learning English and redoing his college education so he could teach here. I am sure the AFT will be very happy if we get more like him, and stop this exploitation of people who want to help kids.
| September 14, 2009; 6:25 PM ET
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