Thursday, December 29, 2022

"DISD recruits in Mexico, Colombia to fill ‘hard to fill’ teaching jobs," By José Luis Adriano

We are in a definite teacher retention crisis in our state and nation. This piece is very informative on one of the Dallas Independent School District's creative approaches to addressing this shortage. 

Some number get hired with a J1 visa. Others with a H-1B visa. Via the former route, learn more here about the J-1 Teacher Program that other districts should know about.

Particularly with a district like Dallas where 45.1% of the students are either enrolled in a bilingual education or English as a Second Language learning programs, recruiting quality candidates like this is a definite stopgap measure. Longer term, instead of outsourcing, the teacher ranks can and should get built from within through improving teacher working conditions and establishing Grow Your Own educator pathways into the teaching profession.

-Angela Valenzuela

DISD recruits in Mexico, Colombia to fill ‘hard to fill’ teaching jobs

School district sponsor special talent visas for foreign professionals

Dallas ISD will hire about 100 professionals from Mexico and Colombia to teach during the 2023-24 school year and alleviate its shortage of teachers.

“We are bringing in the best candidates from Mexico and Colombia to teach our students, which is the most important thing, [and we’re] providing quality educators to our students,” said DISD recruiter Eric Castañeda.

The new educators were recruited at events in late October in Monterrey, Mexico, and in mid-November in Bogotá, Colombia.

Castañeda said hard-to-fill teaching positions in math and science sparked a lot of interest from foreign professionals.

More than 220 people attended the recruiting sessions on Oct. 28-29, in Monterrey. About 80 candidates were interviewed.

The possibility to teach in Dallas generated similar interest in the Bogotá event, held on Nov. 10-13, Castañeda said.

About 71% of the district’s students are Hispanic.

New teachers could make $60,000 annually, about 1.26 million pesos in Mexico, and 290 million pesos in Colombia.

Additionally, bilingual teachers get a $5,000 signing bonus; math, science and special education teachers get a $3,000 bonus.

The teachers selected during international recruiting trips have until Jan. 15, to submit certifications and approve an English proficiency exam as a requirement for getting hired.

Soon after, the district will determine the exact number of teachers hired with either a J1 or H-1B visa. The J-1 Teacher Program is a nonimmigrant cultural exchange program. The H-1B is a visa issued to foreign professionals in specialty occupations. The visas authorize professionals to work in the U.S. for up to six years.

The school district has 50 spots for J1 visas and 50 for H-1B visas to start classes in August 2023.

According to Castañeda, most professional candidates interested in teaching in Dallas are between the ages of 30 to 45, some are career educators, but other applicants are engineers and retired physicians, which fit into the profile of teaching positions DISD struggles to find teachers for —mathematics, physics and chemistry.

“Sometimes people think we bring unqualified teachers, but I can say that these candidates are excellent. They master English as if they were from the U.S. They are very accomplished, hardworking professionals”, Castañeda said.

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