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Lora Bartlett: "Migrant Teachers: How American Schools Import Labor"
May 19, 2014 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm | College 8, Room 301Free
Migrant Teachers investigates an overlooked trend in U.S. public schools today: the growing dependence on overseas trained teachers, as federal mandates require K-12 schools to employ qualified teachers or risk funding cuts. A narrowly technocratic view of teachers as subject specialists has led districts to look abroad, Lora Bartlett argues, resulting in transient teaching professionals with little opportunity to connect meaningfully with students.
Highly recruited by inner-city school districts that struggle to retain educators, approximately 90,000 teachers from the Philippines, India and other countries came to the United States between 2002 and 2008. From administrators’ perspective, these instructors are excellent employees—well educated and able to teach shortage subjects like math, science and special education. Because they depend on the school system for their visas, they are cooperative with authority. But all of this comes at a price. As Bartlett shows, American schools are failing to reap the possible benefits of the global labor market. Framing teachers as stopgap, low status workers, schools may cultivate a high turnover, low investment workforce that undermines the conditions needed for good teaching and learning. Bartlett calls on schools to provide better support to both overseas-trained teachers and their American counterparts.
Lora Bartlett is an Associate Professor in the Education Department at UC Santa Cruz and author of Migrant Teachers: How American Schools Import Labor (Harvard Press). An interview with Lora appeared in Education Week last month.