In the latest entries of “The Front Page,” our new, periodic feature about interestingly displayed education stories, we have two front page Sunday stories about the teaching profession.
In the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger, Kate Royals reports that “hundreds of educators from the Philippines, India, and elsewhere from outside the U.S. are in Mississippi classrooms teaching in hard-to-fill positions and in rural areas.”
“Superintendents in Jackson Public Schools, Noxubee County, Holmes County, Meridian and Gulfport have all hired foreign teachers on temporary visas called H-1Bs, along with others,” the story reports. “According to [the Mississippi Department of Education], there are 451 teachers in the state with degrees from outside the country.”
“Many districts struggle to find qualified math and science teachers,” the story continues. “However, the Mississippi Department of Education’s recent policy change requiring teachers be certified by an American program poses a challenge, according to [a recruiting consultant].”
“By changing the licensing requirements where they do not accept teaching coursework, academic coursework from the Philippines ... It slows down or doesn’t encourage teachers to come to Mississippi because of that,” [the consultant] said.
“The Mississippi Department of Education said the policy regarding international reciprocity wasn’t so much a change but a clarification based on state law that says certification must come from a nationally accredited program.”
Meanwhile, the Poughkeepsie Journal in New York state reports on a shortage of substitute teachers in its area.
Among the reasons, reports Nina Schutzman, “a more competitive employment market means that job seekers who might have settled for a part-time job such as substitute teaching now want full-time jobs with benefits and higher salaries.”
And the Affordable Care Act is playing a role because it requires many employers to provide health care to full-time employees, sparking some to limit the hours of some workers.
“Many districts, already strapped for cash, have cut back on the time they hire individual substitutes to keep an individual’s work week under 30 hours,” the Journal reports. “This allows the districts to avoid paying for health care, according to the WorldTradeCouncil.org, an international research and consulting firm that focuses on educational and financial services.”
“Poughkeepsie spent $1.5 million for long-and-short-term substitutes—more than $700,000 for short-term substitutes alone—during the 2013-14 school year, according to board documents,” the story says. One reason was there were investigations, including one related to the state Regents test, that led to some regular teachers being place on leave, the paper reports.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.