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Schools search for teachers from abroad to ease shortage

Comments from Annie: In Anne Arundel County, an area spanning the Chesapeake Bay coastal areas between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., the teachers continue to bail by some 10% annually.

Instead of evaluating or addressing the issues which forces the surrenders of such large numbers of professionals from their fields, the business influence is clearly notable here.

What worked for Martha Stewart and other entrepreneurial magnates, the policies of cheap, exploitative, imported labor, is evidently good enough for the educational business in this county too.

Look for the spin on this idea; the concept is presented as a way to increase “diversity.” Who would be silly enough to oppose “diversity?”

Schools search for teachers from abroad to ease shortage

By RYAN BAGWELL, Staff Writer

Facing more retirements and a national teacher shortage, county school administrators are looking abroad for the first time to help fill hundreds of classroom jobs expected to emerge next year.

New partnerships with three overseas recruiters could draw up to 85 teachers from China, the Philippines and Latin America in an effort to increase diversity in the county's teaching corps.

"I think that everyone who is going to be recruiting is going to be looking at new and innovative strategies, because the demand is rising and the supply is dwindling," said Florie Bozzella, director of human resources.

Officials are counting on hiring 20 teachers from the Philippines next year through International Human Resource Development Inc., a Los Angeles company.

They also hope to get 50 teachers through the North Carolina-based Visiting International Faculty Program and 15 from China through a program at Towson University.

VIF charges school districts a finders fee of $11,500 per employee, but the program pays teachers' benefits. The county pays the salaries.

The demand for teachers isn't new, and if the foreign teachers come through they will put hardly a dent in the number of teaching vacancies.

More than 800 new teachers were hired last fall, and school officials predict the same number will be needed next school year.

About 100 teachers - many who are retiring - have already indicated they'll be leaving Anne Arundel next year, Ms. Bozzella said. Math, science and Spanish-speaking teachers are especially in short supply, subjects foreign teachers often have the skills to fill.

A number of school districts in the state have hired teachers from abroad over the years, said Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the state Department of Education. Recently, Baltimore and Prince George's schools have stepped up their foreign recruiting efforts.

"There's nothing wrong with that, if that's what it takes to get highly qualified teachers," he said.

Ms. Bozzella is hopeful that proposed 18 percent raises for county teachers and legislation to boost teachers' pensions in Maryland will lower the number of vacancies next year.

Nationwide, more than 2 million more teachers will be needed next year.

That's a major reason why the demand for teachers from abroad has grown. The VIF Program started in 1989 with 12 teachers in an effort to increase diversity. But with President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 spurring an emphasis on qualified teachers, this year it placed more than 1,700 teachers in 148 school districts.

"Every school district and every principal wants highly qualified teachers," Ned Glascock, a spokesman for the VIF Program. "There are some districts that come to us because they need highly qualified teachers in their school."

Among other recruitment efforts, Anne Arundel also hopes to become the second school district in the state to use Teach for America, a program that places new graduates from the nation's top colleges into the classroom for two years. Officials want 50 Teach for America teachers to start in the 2007-08 school year.

Administrators are also recruiting heavily in historically African American colleges. African Americans comprise about 8 percent of county teachers. But they represent about 21 percent of the county's student enrollment. Less than 1 percent of county teachers are Hispanic.

A faculty that reflects the racial make-up of the student body can also help narrow the gap in test scores between white and minority students, studies say.

"To me, having diversity that reflect's the population can only enhance communication and understanding," school board member Enrique Melendez said. "I think that's true everywhere."

School officials will also try to grab teachers at their third annual job fair April 29, a tool only a handful of districts in the state use, Ms. Bozzella said.

Annapolis Capital





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