Maryland schools have foreign teachers on staff, but Americans available

The Maryland public school just got hit with a $4.2 million tab to pay for the H1-B visas of more than 1,000 teachers on staff. Why are we retaining foreign teachers when we have 6.8 percent unemployment in Maryland and 9.2 percent in the United States?

I certainly do understand the value of having teachers with language, cultural and history skills from outside the United States, but this just does not add up for me. From Fox News.

The Prince George’s County school system last week reached an agreement with the Labor Department to pay $4.2 million to more than 1,000 foreign teachers, to compensate them for work visa fees which — under federal law — the school system was supposed to pay. The school system will also pay a $100,000 penalty, presuming the deal is approved by an administrative judge.

That’s $4,200 per teacher. I thought visa fees – maybe better referred to “working papers” – for expats were set to cover the governments cost for administrative fees and make it more cost effective for U.S. businesses, and in this case the government, to hire Americans.

That does not seem to be the case.

According to the Labor Department, employers like the Prince George’s school system must pay work visa fees in order to ensure foreign teachers are paid at least the same “wage rates” as other U.S. workers. By not paying those fees, the department claims, the system “illegally reduced the wages” of the foreign workers. The apparent goal is to make sure the wages of U.S. workers aren’t depressed as a result.

Huh? Can someone explain this to me?

Visa fees – paid directly to the federal government – are implemented to ensure expats are paid at least the same as other U.S. workers? The article states the school district – in this case – is paying the foreign teachers less money than their U.S. peers, the school system is required to pay the visa fees to the federal government, and the federal government provides some cash to the foreign workers to make up for their lower pay.

Confirm for me … that’s what the paragraph says right?

As a result of the settlement, Prince George’s will be barred from recruiting foreign teachers and extending their visas for two years. In the near-term, that means 161 foreign teachers will be forced out of the school system in the next two months due to expired visas, with another 100 following close behind by the beginning of 2012. …

“Obviously, this is not the outcome we had hoped for as these employees have provided an exceptional service to our school district,” the county school system said in a statement. “However, in the final analysis of the current state of our shrinking school budget and mounting legal fees, we determined that we simply could not afford to continue to operate this program.”

Fortunately for Prince George’s, the pool of available recruits in the U.S. is no longer as shallow as it was when the unemployment rate was lower and the county started looking overseas.

“Now you can actually fill those vacancies with American teachers,” the county schools official said. “That’s the only good thing that will come out of this.”

No kidding? Does that mean even though there are qualified candidates for positions who are already U.S. residents or citizens, the school system would extend the contracts of the expats?

How the heck does that add up?

Exit questions:

  1. Are the expat teachers on a lower pay scale as compared to U.S. teachers with the same skill set and experience?
  2. If the teachers are paid less, is the federal government paying the teachers directly to make up for the lower pay using visa fees?
8 replies
  1. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    When I saw that headline I thought it must be because of bi-lingual classes needed for children of migrant workers or diplomats (kind of a cross-over area), and?most of the teachers?would be South American.? However, I was amazed to find out that the majority?of these “foreign” teachers were from the Philippines, and mostly taught special education, math and science, considered “critical” areas.? The special visa (H1-B)? allows them to work here for 3 years, is renewable for 3 more, and gives them opportunity to?apply for?permanent residency – which most seem to have applied for.? Apparently, there are hundreds of thousands of Filipino teachers working all over the US in various school systems.??

    ?While I completely understand why Filipinos would want to come and work in the?US, given the relatively poorer conditions in their own country,??my question is why couldn’t US citizens fill these jobs????? There are fast-track programs that enable qualified professionals to change their career path and use their math and science skills to become teachers.? With all of the unemployment in the US,?we should put our own people to work first.

    Incidentally, the settlement that PGC has to pay is?because so-called “recruiters”…

  2. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    and employment agencies in the Philippines charged each teacher $10,000 to get them a job in the US.? A group of the teachers then sued Prince George County to recoup these exhorbitant “visa fees.”?? It seems to have backfired because PGC is now banned from hiring foreign teachers for 2?years, and says it can’t afford to renew current contracts.?

  3. TomL
    TomL says:

    I have to pay fees to run my business, they have to pay a fee to get a visa. Taxpayers don’t pay my fees why should they pay theirs.?

  4. ricbee
    ricbee says:

    You can be sure other people are getting paid off too. It’s time for a complete moratorium on immigration.

  5. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    So here we have LEGAL immigrants working in the US (for presumably a lower salary than “comparably” qualified Americans) and there is still complaining.

  6. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    Sammy, I doubt they are working for less money – unions would NEVER permit it, and teachers are required to pay union dues (even if they don’t want to: I know, I did).? Also, they are NOT legal immigrants.? They have come in on a special work visa (much like tech companies bring in software writers) for 3 years, that can be renewed.? This is intended to be a temporary visa for highly specialized positions which the companies cannot fill with US citizens.? But, it is one of the few visas that can lead to application for and receiving a green card.

    As a legal immigrant who became a US citizen, I have absolutely no problem with?the US welcoming talented and productive people (hah).? When this program began, US schools were having a hard time filling math and science positions.? However, with so much unemployment at the?moment, I think these positions should first be offered to those who are already US citizens, as?many who have lost their jobs could easily teach math and/or science.? Things change, but bureaucracy rarely moves.

  7. sammy22
    sammy22 says:

    Spinning….spinning. So now we’ll “quibble” about what kind of visa works to make a point? for ideology. Why should US citizens get a position as teachers, qualified or not-qualified, because they lost their jobs? You’re right, things change, but neither bureaucracy nor dogma move.

  8. gillie28
    gillie28 says:

    Sammy, not to “quibble” but how is reporting facts, spinning???? I have no axe to grind politically, as I don’t belong to any party, just trying to?use common sense to get the US economy moving.? If the US economy goes much further down the tubes, how do you feel about China (or a resurgent Russia) being the world’s only superpower and? “policeman”?

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