Importing foreign teachers in DeKalb and other places: Exploitation or good business?

AJC reporter Chris Joyner has done a great investigation on foreign teachers being imported to Georgia to fill voids, especially in DeKalb.

Shaheen Begum (right), a science teacher at Chamblee High School, gets a hug from one of her students Sarah Wright as she heads off to class on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. Georgia school systems have spent at least $52.5 million over the past five years importing teaches from other countries, primarily India, to fill positions teaching math, science and special education — areas where there are shortage of domestic teachers. To get the teachers, the districts go through recruiting firms that sponsor the immigrants’ special H-1B visas, the largest of which is Morrow-based Global Teachers Research and Resources. Global already has been cited by the U.S. Labor Department for forcing teachers to pay fees the company should pay. JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL

Shaheen Begum (right), a science teacher recruited from India to teach at Chamblee High School, gets a hug from one of her students. To get such talented teachers, the districts go through recruiting firms that sponsor the immigrants’ special H-1B visas, the largest of which is Morrow-based Global Teachers Research and Resources. Global already has been cited by the U.S. Labor Department for forcing teachers to pay fees the company should pay. JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL

His investigation raises serious concerns about this practice, which is more widespread than most parents realize. Georgia school districts spent at least $52.5 million in taxpayer money over the last five years paying hundreds of foreign teachers to teach math, science and special education.

Joyner focuses on Global Teachers Research and Resources, a Jonesboro company that brings teachers to Georgia and is the target of a federal investigation into alleged unfair labor practices. The chief operating officer is state Rep. Mike Glanton, D-Jonesboro, a member of the House Education Committee.

DeKalb’s reliance on foreign teachers concerns school board member Marshall Orson. It should concern the entire board now that Joyner has detailed some of the questionable practices.

He found Global teachers without jobs were made to pay expenses federal visa regulations require employers to pay.  And some teachers told Joyner they pay an “administrative fee” — up to 10 percent — out of their paycheck to company, which also receives between $10,000 and $11,500 per teacher from school districts every year.

Orson told the AJC: “I am concerned that we default to finding an outside agency to find us teachers on a temporary basis. It has to be about how we build our permanent teaching corps.”

This report is on MyAJC.com, Here is a short excerpt:

Joyner writes:

The international market for teacher talent is a good deal for school districts, which get needed skilled instructors without paying for their benefits.

But human rights groups say the practice comes close to human trafficking and treats teachers like a commodity — traded between school districts with little care given to their situation and with virtually no representation.

Lawsuits and federal investigations show the system can lead to abuses. In 2011, Global was fined more than $75,000 for failing to properly pay its employees and is under a new U.S. Department of Labor investigation for similar claims. Some employees say Global continues to violate the law and is erratic in how it pays its teachers.

The chief operating officer of the company is state Rep. Mike Glanton, D-Jonesboro, a member of the House Education Committee. “If it were not a need, then this H-1B teacher process would not be in place,” he said. “We’ve recognized at the highest level that this is something we don’t have a handle on and we have to bring people in from other places to do it.”

One teacher, who asked not to be named out of fear for her job and immigration status, told the AJC that the company made her pay her own immigration costs and the costs of renewing her H-1B visa once she was here.

By far, the district relying the most of recruiting firms for immigrant teachers is DeKalb County, which has spent $16.3 million on such contracts since 2010, according to Open Georgia, an online database run by the state that tracks government spending.

Tekshia Ward-Smith, personnel director for the DeKalb County schools, said she would prefer American teachers, but there are not enough. In the meantime, hiring immigrant teachers through the recruiting firms provides DeKalb with “the best bang for our buck.”

“They save us because we don’t have to pay teacher’s retirement on them nor benefits,” she said. Ward-Smith said the district does not involve itself in the details of how the recruiting firms operate.

“They provide training, lodging, moving expenses. Is that taken out of the salary that the district pays? I can’t say,” she said.

 

Reader Comments 0

32 comments
John Dewey
John Dewey

From Dekalb Watch Two:

Wordpresser says:

January 25, 2015 at 12:26 PM

Well I’m sure she is the best thing since man discovered fire. I have nothing nice to say about GTRR, Chandler Sharma or Paddy Sharma and her felonious past (look up OJS in Dekalb under Mini or P Rajappa).
Be that as it may, how much do you know about your blue-eyed teacher: Let us say she is on a H-1, which most immigrant workers are on; that would mean her husband is on a H-4. H-4s are not allowed by USCIS to work LEGALLY in the US. You can read all about her Sirajuddin’s arrest in the link provided, and see his mugshot here. His crime providing alcohol to minors.
Their house in Marietta is also shown to be a Massage Parlor operated by a Karen Slice. Do you need to say more?

Cere
Cere

These placement companies get over $10,000 per placement. As usual in DeKalb - Follow the money.

Antagonist
Antagonist

As a teacher of many years, I am anxious for a return to the times when the education of the student was the most important issue of every conversation regarding schools and curriculum. Now, it's all business. Literally, business. How to get more "returns" for the "investment." Everything is about the financial sheet of the school board. I really do not see a true interest in the students in much of what I read here.

Raja44
Raja44

Where did Tekshia Ward-Smith get her doctorate?  Anyone know?  And what is it in?

BearCasey
BearCasey

"“They save us because we don’t have to pay teacher’s retirement on them nor benefits,” she said. Ward-Smith said the district does not involve itself in the details of how the recruiting firms operate."


I've got an idea for Ward-Smith:  bring back slavery and save even more money for the county.  This is DISGUSTING.  How long will it be until there is a follow-up story detailing which DeKalb big wig has a financial interest in Global.

Raja44
Raja44

What a ridiculous racket.  How much money exactly does Mike Glanton make on these deals?  And who exactly is he connected with in DeKalb Schools?  Tekshia Ward-Smith says DeKalb Schools just can't find enough teachers here in the USA, so they just have to do this -- yeah, right.  And then they take advantage of these foreign teachers, rip them off and don't pay them benefits, to boot.  Barf.


I hope Mr. Orson keeps after this and puts an end to it.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Let's see, a retired engineer would have to jump through hoops to be able to teach a math class, even though he would have years of practical, hands on experience to draw upon.  Instead, we bring in a foreign teacher, with questionable credentials and a high potential for language barriers, to teach.

Yep, makes perfect sense to me...

Lynn43
Lynn43

Foreign teachers use English as a second language.  They may be wonderful teachers, but if the students cannot understand what they are saying, all is lost.  My child just graduated from college, and all of her math professors were from other countries.  Needless to say, had it not been for tutoring by an English first language teacher, she could not have passed.

liberal4life
liberal4life

@Lynn43 

Many foreign teachers' English command is better than many natives. They do tend to have accents, but so do many Americans, too.  Instructors' language is the most favorite excuse for students, but it is rarely the real reason.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Will be interesting to see if Maureen reports Gov Cuomo's comments to the teachers union, admonishing them to stop saying they "represent the students"......


I think it went something like this:  “No, you don’t,” Cuomo said he told the person. “You represent the teachers. Teacher salaries, teacher pensions, teacher tenure, teacher vacation rights. I respect that. But don’t say you represent the students.”

mensa_dropout
mensa_dropout

Dekalb, sleezy as ever.

The terms "Indentured Servant" and "Human Trafficking" come to mind. We don't know what these folks were promised or if the promises were made and broken. Regardless, I am sure that they did NOT sign up for sub-par schools and no benefits or sick leave.

It is NOT okay to continue charging these teachers an "Administrative Fee" when the county is also paying the company a finders' fee.. 

Does anyone know if folks on this visa are afforded tax-free income? 

TheDeal2
TheDeal2

With a $1 billion budget, DeKalb Schools has plenty of money to pay highly qualified teachers.  If an international teacher is the best candidate, great, then pay him/her accordingly and don't turn your head and ignore some of the shenanigans going on with their treatment by a third party.  If a teacher is being mistreated by that 3rd party company, how do you think that translates into the classroom?  Do you think there is loyalty or personal investment into that school and classroom?  Or will that teacher always be on the lookout for a better place?  If Tekshia would think beyond the bottom line, she might find her job a lot easier to do.  As it is, she uses threats and micromanaging to scare the current teachers into submission.

Dismuke
Dismuke

@TheDeal2 School districts don't want to pay for highly educated and experienced teachers--it's not that there's any shortage.  I actually know a teacher with a Phd and many years of experience that was told outright by a prospective employer that she was too expensive to hire.  This is all about being cheap.  Period.

Astropig
Astropig

@Dismuke @TheDeal2


Look, a PhD is overqualified for most secondary education jobs. Be realistic. How long do you think he/she is going to stay in a job like that before realizing that it's a run in a hamster wheel? Or (from the perspective of higher ups) is going to start trying to get their jobs?


By this reasoning, we need college graduates to wash cars.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I hope there is an investigation into the conflicts of interest of this state legislator, as well as the way the company profits from the work of these teachers. 


We DO have people who would teach IF they were paid competitive pay (a masters degree in physics should not be expected to work for the same as a kindergarten teacher)  AND that student behavior expectations WILL be supported by administrators quickly and sternly.

DrMonicaHenson
DrMonicaHenson

@Wascatlady U.S. teacher preparation programs of resident citizens usually graduate more teachers annually in the aggregate than there are jobs to be filled. The problem is that many of those graduates are not certified in the high-need areas, nor are they willing to teach where the most need is, geographically speaking. 

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

This morning I listened to the Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, celebrating the elimination of tenure for teachers in that state.  We all know the salaries paid to teach our children have become embarrassingly low and no longer competitive with the corporate cubicle world.  The wealthy 1 percent will fight tax increases necessary to change this and send their children to selective private schools.  The upper middle class will fight for 'vouchers' so they can supplement the needed tuition for their own private schools.  Left behind will be the rest to deal with deteriorating public school buildings, used and outdated supplies, underpaid foreign teachers looking for an alternative occupation, and a cultural environment leading to low paying occupations and crime.  Will we allow the anti-tax, corporate dogs, to destroy our country?

Lynn43
Lynn43

@Astropig @Ralph-43  Scott Walker-crazy republican with crazy voters.  People will some day come to their senses and realize what is happening, but it will probably be too late to save their state.

Astropig
Astropig

@Lynn43 @Astropig @Ralph-43


He's beaten the unions and their corrupt allies three straight times. The only people that like him are the people that keep electing him.

Point
Point

You can't blame the school systems.  Since the austerity cuts, schools have to find ways to save everywhere. Secondly, Georgia does not produce enough teacher graduates to fill vacancies.  The retirement not being paid into is TRS, not the annuity in place as the alternative to social security.


For profit companies don't really care how they gain their profits.



dcdcdc
dcdcdc

"the junk that is happening since the Republicans took over in Georgia"....to flipping hilarious - I guess I missed out on when the republicans took over Dekalb County schools....oh, you mean, you are too dense to realize that the county runs school systems?  And D's have been running Dekalb for....how long?  


Or, you just want to blame Rs for everything, regardless of whether it makes sense or not.  Personally, I hope its the latter, because it shows how idiotix you and your ilk are.  Please keep trying - it's like shooting fish in a barrel.


But teachers, keep pushing D's in elections - as they outsource your jobs.  They'll do to you what they did to the Black community - getting them hooked on "govt assistance", rather than helping them become self sufficient.  


If they get you laid off, then you too can go on "govt assistance'....and then they really have your vote locked up

Astropig
Astropig

@Rhonda Brownign (Can't hit reply below your post)


"See the junk that is happening since the Republicans took over in Georgia?"


I think that if you carefully read the story,you'll find that this is being spearheaded by a kind, compassionate,caring Democrat. For profit. The kind of profit that,when practiced by anyone other than a Democrat,is evil.

dsw2contributor
dsw2contributor

Maureen quoted Tekisha Ward Smith, who said: "[Foreign Teachers] save us because we don’t have to pay teacher’s retirement on them nor benefits" 

Mmmkay.   Back in 2009, the DeKalb County School District stopped payment on a retirement fund for district employees, in direct violation of the contract the district agreed to.  DeKalb teacher Elaine Gold and school psychologist Amy Shaye filed suit against the district in June 2011.  Their suit seeks class action status, which would allow other DeKalb Schools employees to join the suit against the district.


So, as Dekalb Schools are not paying into the retirement fund, how does not having to pay teacher's retirement for the H1-Bs result in a saving?  Is Ward-Smith figuring that the H1-Bs cannot become members of the class action lawsuit?



Looking4truth
Looking4truth

1.  How many American citizen teachers in Georgia were not hired so these cheaper workers could be imported?

2.  If our public schools are supposed to be one of the mechanisms used to teach our history, culture and traditions, just whose history, culture and traditions are these foreign teacher bringing into the classroom?

3.  I had a professor in a Business Statistics class who couldn't speak the language.  How are the English speaking skills measured before putting them in a class full of kids teaching difficult subjects like calculus and physics?

Cere
Cere

@Looking4truth "How many American citizen teachers in Georgia were not hired so these cheaper workers could be imported?"

A lot.  I personally know of several highly-qualified teachers who tried to apply to DeKalb, but could not even get a face to face interview. Applicants go virtually ignored. 

EdUktr
EdUktr

For years companies have been able to avoid hiring American hi-tech workers in favor of skilled foreigners willing to accept sub-standard wages for the opportunity to jump the head of the immigration line. Along with their extended families. 

The canard that there "aren't enough" American teachers is used here for cover.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@EdUktr

Wow.  You said something I agree with.  I think the devil must be ice fishing at the moment.

RhondaBrownign
RhondaBrownign

See the junk that is happening since the Republicans took over in Georgia?   There are plenty of good teachers trained at the University of Georgia and especially at Georgia State, but with the stupid testing and teacher abuse that has become prevalent in America, it looks as though the teachers are evacuating just like they are in Louisiana.  And what business do teachers who come from countries where they leave their handicapped people to die in the streets or in orphanages have teaching special education!  the most vulnerable children need quality, American teachers with Master's degrees who know what they are doing.  I am absolutely appalled that Georgia would stoop so low as to recruit foreign teachers and then not ensure that they are treated well.  Remember, y'all.  Atlanta loves a good demonstration and the General Assembly is in session.