Believe it or not, but the US has a teacher shortage: especially in rural areas. This teacher problem is not new. Rural areas have always struggled to get teachers. Even larger districts are recruiting teachers from overseas.
Welcome to Nowhere
These districts are now looking overseas for new teachers due to their lack of native applicants. The major downside for teachers is that they have to live in a rural area where dating prospects are few and job opportunities for existing partners are lackluster at best. Many rural districts, because they are supported by the local tax base, often don’t pay as well and starting pay for new teachers on average is only $27,000. For a foreign teacher, if they can adjust to small-town American living and accept the low wage then a job is readily available.
Strikes and Teachers
Part of the struggle for finding new teachers is that American teachers are increasingly asking for increases in pay and benefits. Teacher strikes have spread across the country beginning in West Virginia and spreading to Oklahoma and California as teachers agitate for pay increases. Many teachers saw their pay frozen in the wake of the recession and it has never recovered. For new teachers, the starting pay doesn’t often make the career make sense and high qualified people are turned off of teaching because of the lack of money, especially for new teachers. Teachers from places like Malaysia and the Philippines are more willing to work for these low salaries and benefits. Since they are contractors they are usually not unionized. They can’t go on strike. The best that they can do is quit. American teachers are simply being outcompeted.
The Future of Teaching
As American school districts struggle with recruiting teachers and have to handle more children than ever, foreign teachers will continue to fill in the gap working at a wage district’s are willing to pay. For American teachers, this could spell trouble in future negotiations. If districts get used to hiring these teachers for less money and fewer problems, many American teachers could simply find themselves out of a job.