One of my readers sent me a blog written by Charlotte Iserbyt, who served in the U. S. Department of Education during the Reagan Administration. Her remarks offered strong words about Charter Schools and H-1B visas which allow these schools to hire teachers from abroad while qualified American instructors stand in unemployment lines. Abuses in the use of these visas are being investigated by the Ohio Department of Education where a number of such schools have been established by a Turkish cleric who is said to be using unlicensed, foreign teachers in his institutions. Adding to this concern are the large amounts of taxpayer dollars being funneled into these facilities which have a religious thread running through the curriculum. Having no elected governing school board, parents have nowhere to turn with their concerns. (Click Here)
In my blog, “Throwing Out The Welcome Mat,” (10/8/14), I referred to another visas program which allowed foreign workers to enter the country, presumably because they had special qualifications which couldn’t be found within our borders. Some critics have complained that what is unique to these workers is their willingness to accept lower wages than home grown ones.
In the case of Turkish schools, the qualification are equally fuzzy. The primary one seems to be being Turkish. Between 2005 – 2013, 474 Turkish teachers have obtain H-1B visas and the schools have collected $45million in Ohio state funds to educate 6,600 children from kindergarten through high school. (Ibid)
I’m old enough to know that little in the world is either totally good or totally bad, but legislators have put too much energy into building fences along our southern border without showing equal concern for the burgeoning visa programs that could be creating a different set of problems.
To what extent H-1B poses a real threat to our educational system, I don’t know. We’ve allowed our public schools to fragment and decay for so long, it’s difficult to know what to blame. Part of the problem is that we no longer agree on the purpose of an education. As Iserbyt suggests, we’ve stopped focusing on providing our children with a broad education. Informed minds that will sustain a democracy is no longer the goal. Instead, schools are often thought as training grounds where students learn to assemble better mousetraps in some billionaire’s money factory.