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Outsourcing of Math Tutoring Decried

The failure of some American students to master math is adding up to big bucks for tutoring companies in India.

A little-known provision in the federal No Child Left Behind law allows federal taxpayer dollars to flow to online tutoring services several time zones away in places such as New Delhi and Calcutta. Those services typically contract with U.S. tutoring companies, which provide them the computer software and set the lesson plan.

Few would begrudge using public money to give struggling students extra help. But some U.S. teachers decry the offering of instruction to Indian firms that pay full-time, college-educated tutors as little as $230 a month. They also complain that while the law requires teachers to be fully certified, private tutors have no such requirement.

"We are seeing teachers being laid off," said Nancy Van Meter of the American Federation of Teachers. "Given that situation, it's hard to understand why our tax dollars are being used to create jobs overseas."

The Indian tutoring companies say they are simply filling a market void by providing after-hours services with which some U.S. teachers don't want to be bothered, said Anirudh Phadke, an official with New Delhi-based Career Launcher. The firm, which also serves students in the Middle East, tutors about 1,500 American students in math alone.

"We have a lot of good teachers over here willing to do this full time," Phadke said during a telephone interview. "It's a good opportunity."

Because well-known online tutoring services, such as Sylvan Online, subcontract with firms such as Career Launcher, it's hard to say how many students are spending their money on Indian tutors.

— Editorial
San Diego Union-Tribune


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