Florida District Hiring Foreign Educators Amid Teacher Shortage

As vacant positions are left unopened across the nation, a Florida school district is hiring foreign teachers in a desperate move.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

Florida school district

As the public education suffers from staffing shortages and vacant teaching positions,many solutions are being tried. From offering teachers sign-on bonuses, shorter work weeks, and even bonuses for keeping up attendance, public school districts across the country are scrambling to retain accreditation standards, and one state is accessing a different pool of educators. One Florida school district is hiring teachers from outside the country to fill vacant positions. 

It is an unavoidable fact that interest in the teaching profession has waned. More teachers are retiring and plan to retire early than are earning new education degrees. As college enrollment drops and young adults seek out trade school programs and on-the-job training programs, traditional teaching degrees are not offering enough appeal to graduate a new generation of teachers in the workforce. The job shortage itself is being felt widespread nationally and some fear this is due to low birth rates and the changing landscape of the American family as a large portion of the U.S. population has now reached retirement age. Whatever the reason, The Osceola County School District plans to hire 140 teachers from South America to resolve the issue. 

This Florida school district has hired an outside firm to help bring in Latin teachers. This move may prove to be culturally enriching as 60% of Osceola County students are of Latin heritage. The school board Vice Chairman Julius Melendez noted that the decision did not come easy. Many factors were taken into account, especially the fact that there are not enough teaching students seeking education degrees to fill current or near-future classroom positions.

He also admitted that his Florida school district is not legally allowed to contact applicants directly. Because of immigration laws, the federal government must screen potential employees first, and then the Department of Education must ensure that international teachers’ qualifications meet state standards. Then a J-1 visa may be issued. While the border crisis rages on, this option affords a legal pathway to American work for South American teachers as well as a more direct route to earning citizenship. Some opponents view this as a modernized form of outsourcing, but American teachers are overworked and struggling to keep up with added duties due to short staffing. Without relief, many exit the profession early. 

The district has committed to prioritizing local teachers during the hiring process, and as other solutions have yet to remedy the national teacher shortage, this new approach is being applauded by many within the Florida Osceola County School District. How this program will affect students and classroom outcomes is yet to be seen, but it holds much more promise than other strategies. 

Florida school district

Foreign educators seeking employment during a worker shortage host many benefits. Offering them a legal path to work and live in the United States takes the burden off of teachers who have experienced unprecedented challenges, allows districts to retain accreditation, and meet students’ needs while drawing in those who wish to work without pressuring young adults into a profession they are not interested in. It is an unconventional idea that just might save the Florida school district from experiencing further losses.