Recruitment & Retention

Abusive Practices in Recruiting Teachers from Abroad

By Stephen Sawchuk — September 15, 2009 1 min read

You may have heard heard of districts that hire a good portion of teachers from foreign countries like India and the Philippines. Many of these teachers come seeking the opportunity to win higher salaries here than they could in their native countries, and many have proven to be successful teachers. The Baltimore Sun did quite an interesting story a few years back on the large influx of Filipino teachers to that metropolis.

But there’s a seedy side to this practice, too, and the American Federation of Teachers brings it to light in a deeply disturbing report on the practice of for-profit recruiting firms that contract with districts to supply these teachers.

From what the report describes, some of these firms have basically subjected hopeful teachers from abroad to what amounts to indentured servitude. Such teachers have been forced to live in substandard housing, charged usurious interest rates on loans they took out with the companies to secure passage to the United States, forbidden to own vehicles, and threatened with having their work visas revoked, it says.

Some of these teachers were officially employed by districts and managed to fight those types of policies through their unions, the report notes. But others were employed by the recruiting companies and therefore were not covered by collective-bargaining agreements, so there was little that unions could do to help them.

Now that AFT has put this out there, will federal, state, and local governments step up their oversight of teacher-recruiting firms?

More from Jay Mathews at The Washington Post here.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.