A Novel Way to Meet the Demand for Teachers
School districts eager to fill gaping shortages of math and science teachers might consider hiring teachers who have earned alternative certification, which usually means a modified certification process involving more hands-on experience and abbreviated theory coursework. However, some districts are going further off the beaten path in their search for new teachers. This article in the L.A. Times focuses on California public school districts’ recruitment efforts in the Philippines. The districts bring the teachers to the United States on three-year visas, train them in the intricacies of California public school culture, and then let them teach.
It’s interesting that states are so set on the requirements for a teaching license that they would rather hire people from the other side of the world who meet those requirements than scientists in the U.S. who know their subject but haven’t taken education courses.
Some will object: Don’t the education credentials ensure that teachers will be able to relate to students and teach effectively? Not always. The L.A. Times article notes that the teachers met all California requirements, but had difficulty adjusting to U.S. schools. They were used to classroom procedures in the Philippines, where students are deferential to authority and risk getting kicked out of class for missing a homework assignment. Their education course credits hadn’t prepared them for the culture shock, and I doubt the crash course on life in the United States helped anyone adapt quickly enough.
Bringing foreign teachers here could be beneficial to everyone involved, if the districts support the teachers throughout their stay as they face the challenges of teaching in our public schools. I hope states will also realize how many potential teachers are already here, familiar with our culture, and barred from teaching only by bureaucratic regulations.