The Learning

PBS Premiere: Sept. 20, 2011Check the broadcast schedule »

In Context

The American Federation of Teachers reports that there were an estimated 19,000 teachers working in the United States on temporary visas in 2007, and numbers were increasing.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the five states with the highest numbers of overseas teachers are Texas, New York, California, Maryland and Louisiana.

Schools having a particularly hard time recruiting and retaining teachers include those in the inner cities and in rural areas, where populations tend to be poorer, books and supplies scarce and salaries low. Science, math and special education positions are the hardest to fill.

Critics of recruiting abroad, such as the American Federation of Teachers, say that rather than importing teachers from countries that may, as a result, end up with their own shortages, U.S. government and school districts instead ought to address the reasons underlying their shortages, in particular teacher compensation and benefits. They say that bringing in teachers from elsewhere only patches over problems in the current education system by providing a quick-fix solution.

Photo caption: A scene from The Learning
Credit: Courtesy of The Learning

» American Federation of Teachers. "Importing Educators: Causes and Consequences of International Teacher Recruitment."
» Bazar, Emily. "Schools in Need Employ Teachers From Overseas." USA Today, October 27, 2008.
» Southern Poverty Law Center. "Guestworker Teachers Defrauded in International Labor Trafficking Scheme."