North Carolina's booming population growth is putting added pressure on the state's public education system and stretching its supply of teachers. Bringing in new teachers from outside the country is one method many states are using to address this issue.
The Visiting International Faculty Program (VIF) a private firm based here in Chapel Hill and the biggest sponsor of foreign teachers in the country will accept 500 new teachers in 2008.
Programs like VIF provide a unique and beneficial service to schools and communities" but should not be considered a practical long-term solution to the teacher shortage in North Carolina.
International teachers do more than fill job openings.
""VIF is based on the idea that it's important for students to have exposure to people from other cultures"" says program spokeswoman Leslie Maxwell.
We think the underlying cultural and educational benefits of teacher exchange programs like VIF are considerable.
Students get the opportunity to learn first-hand about different cultures in a way that is far more valuable than reading from a book. VIF recruits are highly trained, and surveys have shown that schools are very satisfied with the program.
Hosting international teachers is a great way for schools to introduce global concepts to young students and prepare them for an increasingly globalized society.
But by insourcing"" teachers to fill short-term gaps" schools risk ignoring the underlying problems in our education system.
David Haselkorn policy research director at the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation in New Jersey" says if foreign teachers ""are recruited into schools and communities lacking the kinds of support that all new teachers need"" they may not stay.""
Foreign teachers are drawn to the United States because the wages here are significantly higher than in their home countries.
If North Carolina is really serious about increasing its domestic supply of teachers" it should offer them a similar financial incentive.
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