To the Editor:
Regarding the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s proposal to dramatically raise the cap on H1B visas, which are given to skilled foreign workers (“Immigration Proposals Could Aid School Hiring Efforts,” April 12, 2006):
Increasing the H1B cap is a double-edged sword. It would make it easier for school districts to fill chronic shortages of science and math teachers, and for U.S. technology companies to get more foreign scientific and engineering talent. But there would be unintended consequences:
• It would take the pressure off the drastic need to reform our state education systems—where differential pay for scarce science or math teaching talent, for example, is opposed by the teachers’ unions.
• It would also send a terrible message to prospective science and technology students here: Work hard, earn your degree in a very challenging field, and your government will suppress your salary and/or give your job to a foreigner.
So we have a choice: We can become addicted to foreign high-tech and science talent by expanding the number of H1B visas granted. Or we can subject a dysfunctional education monopoly to reform. My preference: a bracing dose of market competition in the form of school vouchers, selective science and math charter schools, and the like.
Which course would better serve the long-term interests of the United States?