Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Years of working and living in Baltimore will soon come to an end for dozens of city teachers. They’re international educators and their visas are about to run out.
As Gigi Barnett explains, school leaders are now looking to hire American teachers.
Seven years ago, city school leaders had a desperate need for highly qualified teachers. They launched an international search to find instructors in countries like Jamaica, India and the Philippines.
Now, many of those work visas are about to expire and school leaders say about 100 teachers will have to go back home.
“This is not easy. It’s very difficult. Some of them have been here for seven or eight years. And they’ve kind of made this their home,” Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers’ Union, said.
School leaders say their hands are tied. After conducting an extensive survey, they found hundreds of American teachers qualified and ready to fill the spots that many international teachers currently have.
Under federal labor laws, a school district cannot hire an international teacher if they can find an American instructor to fill the spot.
And after a final tally, the district can only sponsor about 46 international teachers whose visas expire next year.
English is siding with school leaders.
“Our international teachers bring a wealth to our community and a wealth to our students,” she said. “And it’s just unfortunate that the market at this time isn’t bearing out the need to keep all of our teachers.”
“Yeah, that seems really unfortunate,” parent Hie-Jung Yoon said.
She fears that one of her son’s teachers may be on the cut list.
“I would like that teacher to stay. But I can understand the administration’s need to address making jobs available to American citizens as well,” she said.
Some of the city’s international teachers are upset, in part because they say they were promised sponsorship for permanent residency when they first arrived years ago.
The school district has not yet decided which of its international teachers will be allowed to keep their positions.