Desperate to fill vacant teacher slots, Oak Knoll Elementary School principal Iris Moran signed up three years ago for a program that brings teachers from foreign lands to U.S. schools.
The intent of the Visiting International Faculty (VIF) program is cultural exchange, but Moran says her initial purpose ”was almost just to help the situation” at her East Point, Ga., school — to replace teachers lost to retirement or maternity leave. Only now does she appreciate how enriching it is to have teachers from such countries as Chile, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, and Australia, despite the fact that our President wants to close our borders to foreigners.
Other schools have taken similar routes to help fill a looming teacher shortage that experts say will require 2.2 million teachers over the next decade. The problem is compounded by the dearth of teachers in math and science — the two subjects in which U.S. students are the weakest when compared with peers in other countries. Many U.S. schools are pushing to recruit foreign teachers who can help remedy both problems:
* Chicago, the nation’s third-largest school district and the second-largest employer in Illinois, is looking for 3,500 new teachers for this school year. More than 130 teachers have been hired since August from 35 countries, including Japan, India, Colombia, Pakistan, Ghana, Jamaica, and Mexico.