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How to Recruit Teachers from Around the World

Having trouble filling teacher ranks? Why not look to import your instructors? Many districts are seeking candidates from the Philippines, Spain, India, and closer to home, Canada. Some countries such as Spain expedite recruitment through their government and assist with daunting visa paperwork.

Barbara Burnett, assistant director of special education certificated employment operations at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), where more than 100 teachers came from abroad last year, says U.S. math and science graduates can often choose from more lucrative fields, often doubling what they would make as teachers. Meanwhile, foreign teachers are eager to participate. Visas are tied to the district, and in L.A., teachers return home after three years. “We don’t assign them when they arrive,” says Burnett, “but send them out to interviews. We want a good fit.” She explains that, in the Philippines for instance, a recruitment team may extend 120 offers, with 95 accepting. LAUSD also recruits through newspapers, the Craigslist Web site, and e-mail campaigns.

Damaris Perryman-Garrett, the interim executive director of employee services at Atlanta Public Schools, is pursuing a similar recruitment strategy. “Most other countries have strong math and science programs,” he says. “We’ve been recruiting this way for over five years. We aspire to be a world-class school district. Diversity includes race and gender, but now we want to add thought, perspective, and life-experience diversity and give our graduates real post-secondary options.” Perryman-Garrett uses the Visiting International Faculty Program (VIF) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to recruit and assist in documentation issues. “We assess our needs and ask for profiles, via e-mail or mini-videos. VIF provides us individuals with teaching backgrounds and does screening; then our principals do second screenings.”

Nancy Slavin, director of recruitment and workforce planning at Chicago Public Schools, says the district approaches “sister cities” to fill math and science positions. This year teachers from Pusan, South Korea, teaching at Von Steuben (Metropolitan Science) High School, were visited by their country’s superintendent of education. “It’s like a high-level teacher exchange,” says Slavin. “We’ll meet over the year with sister cities such as Shanghai, China; Amman, Jordan; and Lahore, Pakistan, and work with supportive consulates in Chicago. We have a mixed community—for example, 20 ethnicities in one school. And these teachers really have something to offer our teachers in knowledge transfer.”

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