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Migrant Teachers

Migrant Teachers

Lora Bartlett
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Migrant Teachers
    Book Description:

    Migrant Teachersinvestigates an overlooked trend in U.S. public schools today: the growing reliance on teachers trained overseas, 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 asserts, resulting in transient teaching professionals with little opportunity to connect meaningfully with students. Highly recruited by inner-city school districts that struggle to attract 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 subjects like math, science, and special education where teachers are in short supply. Despite the additional recruitment of qualified teachers, American schools are failing to reap the possible benefits of the global labor market. Bartlett shows how the framing of these recruited teachers as stopgap, low-status workers cultivates 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72634-5
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. ii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. 1-12)

    “Everyone, please pay attention,” calls out New Urban High School tenth-grade math teacher Alma Cruz.

    Not a single student even pauses in conversation. Two girls at the back of the room are playing cards, a boy listens to his iPod so loudly everyone can hear it, and another boy is having a barely concealed cell phone conversation under his hoodie. A boisterous girl wanders from desk to desk making jokes and talking to friends. At one point, she grabs a boy’s cell phone and takes a picture of herself with it. She flashes the image at other classmates and laughs...

  4. PART ONE The Count, Context, and Conditions

      (pp. 15-31)

      Overseas trained teachers (OTTs) are a growing source of U.S. teacher labor, particularly in the math, science, and special education departments of high-poverty urban centers. Urban school districts seek OTTs when the domestic American market fails them. They draw on the overseas market to staff the highest-need subject areas in low-income schools with teachers who meet the qualified teacher policy requirements.

      The scope and pattern of OTTs in the United States is discernible through the collective analysis of immigration visa data and California state teacher credentialing data as well as through interviews with teachers, recruiters, and school leaders. In particular,...

    • 2 THE PERFECT POLICY STORM Colonization, Education, and Immigration
      (pp. 32-42)

      “Actually, before 2001, I think there really wasn’t any buzz in the Philippines that they were in need of teachers here in the United States. It was more nurses, IT people that were coming in the 90s. It [the demand for teachers] just came on in the 2000s.”¹ The “buzz” this Filipina teacher refers to accompanied the increase in overseas trained teacher flows into the United States—its echo in the streets of Manila, Cebu, and other areas of the former U.S. colony. The conditions were perfect for a rapid expansion of teacher labor migration from the Philippines to the...

  5. PART TWO The Teachers and the Schools

      (pp. 45-65)

      The numbers, origins, and concentrations of overseas trained teachers sought in the United States since 2002 provide little more than an outline image of the teachers—a shadow. These data indicate little to nothing about who they are, why they have come, how they got here, and what they experience. It does not reveal their feelings, struggles, goals, hopes, and motivations. To truly see the teachers requires conversation with, and observation of, the teachers themselves. To capture the teachers’ stories for this book required spending a great deal of time with teachers in the schools, classrooms, and places they call...

      (pp. 66-81)

      There are two distinct areas of migration that teachers navigate: the point of professional entry and the manner in which teachers handle the short-term nature of the visas and, consequently, the work.

      Initiating migration is often as simple as discovering a demand for your teaching expertise and going through the application process to acceptance. Sometimes, though, it means changing careers into teaching or retraining into a new teaching specialization in order to position oneself for migration.

      In addition, teachers must decide how to orient themselves to the short-term limits of their visas. Some embrace the time limit, as it fits...

    • 5 A TALE OF TWO SCHOOLS The Transient School and the Transplant School
      (pp. 82-100)

      There are best-case and worst-case scenarios for overseas trained teachers working in U.S. public schools. There are schools that frame overseas teachers as transplants—valuable resources that must be nurtured through the relocation process to ensure that they take root and flourish. And there are schools that frame overseas teachers as transients—temporarily needed resources that are passing through and readily replaceable.

      Whether OTTs end up at a transplant school or a transient school has significant implications for their experience, adjustment, and success. In fact, it is a critical piece in determining an OTT’s experience and effectiveness. Yet, not all...

  6. PART THREE Implications

      (pp. 103-116)

      Teachers are on the move.

      Teachers are moving between countries to meet labor market needs. They are moving from developing to industrialized countries. They are moving from the schools and students of their homelands to the schools and students of countries that can pay them higher wages. They are moving from one teaching specialization into another—some of them are even moving into teaching—in order to move between countries.

      These movements are relatively new and part of a postindustrialized period of labor migration. Ten years ago, a few teachers might move to another country for a short adventure, or...

      (pp. 117-126)

      Overseas trained teachers are an established part of the U.S. teacher labor market. Debates can ensue as to their relative effectiveness at teaching American students, the role they play in the labor market, and the implications for the teaching profession. That there are overseas trained teachers in U.S. schools, however, is a fact.

      At a time when low-income urban U.S. schools experienced a demand for subject specialist teachers, overseas trained teachers, especially those from developing countries, emerged as a supply source of teachers. The U.S. demand for transnational teachers with subject specialism emerges from a policy context of academic standards...

    (pp. 127-136)

    As I finish this book, the issues in the teacher labor market are markedly different than when I started the research. School districts are laying off teachers rather than seeking them. Budget crises, coupled with declining enrollments in some areas, are creating a teacher labor surplus and overseas trained teachers are not needed in the same numbers, if at all. This might lead some to conclude that transnational teacher migration is over, that overseas trained teachers are no longer part of the U.S. labor market and that we need not concern ourselves with the details of those migrations. This conclusion...

  8. APPENDIX Investigating Teacher Migration
    (pp. 137-162)
  9. NOTES
    (pp. 163-172)
    (pp. 173-178)
    (pp. 179-180)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 181-187)