|NUMBER 310||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||NOVEMBER 2011|
|Public Schools Import Foreign Teachers|
Since the late 1990s there has been a growing trend to import teachers from foreign countries to educate American students. During the 2010 fiscal year, the Department of Labor certified 13,157 foreign workers to teach grades K-12 in American schools.
Schools have been hiring these teachers on temporary work visas such as the H-1B visa and the J-1 visa to teach a diverse array of classes including math, science, foreign language, special education, and physical education.
The H-1B visa is a renewable three-year work permit. According to the Department of Labor's website, the visa was intended "to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce." Schools violate the intent of the H-1B and J-1 visas when they hire foreign teachers instead of qualified U.S. citizens.
Some schools have found that international recruitment is cheaper, especially if they fail to pay visa fees on behalf of the foreign teachers.
Maryland's massive Prince George's County Public School System, employing 1,044 foreign teachers, did just that. Under the H-1B program, the Maryland schools were legally responsible for over $4 million in fees. In an investigation earlier this year, the Department of Labor found that "Instead of paying these fees, [Maryland schools] required the foreign teachers to pay them. As a result, the teachers' earnings were reduced below the amount legally required to be paid."
The spokesman for the district, Briant Coleman said, "We hired temporary foreign national employees at a time when school systems across the country were facing shortages of highly qualified instructors in hard-to-fill subject areas such as math, science and special education, as mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act."
Now the district will be required to pay back millions in visa fees and will also be banned from participating in the H-1B program for two years as a penalty for the violation. Maryland County teachers who have not obtained a green card will lose their jobs when their current visas run out.
Schools in seven other states have also been found to be in "willful violation" of the H-1B program. (www.cis.org, 4-17-11 and 9-11; www.msnbc.com 9-29-11)