H-1B + K-12 = ?

A First Look at the Implications of Foreign Teacher Recruitment

By David North April 2011

A First Look at the Implications of Foreign Teacher Recruitment

Note: Updated April 17, 2011


David North is a CIS Fellow.


While the greatest use – and therefore misuse – of the H-1B nonimmigrant foreign worker program takes place in the high-tech industries, there is a substantial use, particularly in New York City and in Texas, of the H-1B program to import K-12 teachers from overseas and thus to deprive American teachers of jobs. There are a number of serious implications of this trend, some troubling, some bizarre, and others merely puzzling.

The H-1B nonimmigrant worker program is deeply controversial, hailed by employers as an opportunity to bring the best and the brightest to the United States, and assailed by workers and many analysts as little more than a technique for industry to reduce its labor costs and, simultaneously, to replace older American workers with younger, more recently trained foreign ones.1

Most of the discussion of the utility or the evil of this program has been focused on the high-tech industries and on academia, but the program, in recent years also has been used to recruit overseas workers for kindergarten through 12th grade teaching assignments. This is a very preliminary examination of this use of the program in the field of primary and secondary education.

Until late in the CIS research, the dialogue on the use of H-1B in America’s schools was muted and limited to a few school systems and a handful of analysts. Then, on April 5, it became front page news (in the The Washington Post)2 when the U.S. Department of Labor was reported to have ordered the school system in Prince George’s County (Md.) to pay $5.9 million in fines and back wages to the system's 1,000 or so H-1B teachers. (Prince George’s County is a major D.C. suburb, and not a very prosperous one by Washington standards.)

DoL rarely penalizes school systems for their misuse of this foreign worker program, and even more rarely levies multi-million dollar charges.

According to the Post, “School officials recruited foreign instructors ... but then required that the teachers cover thousands of dollars in expenses related to getting temporary work visas — expenses that, Labor Department officials said, should have been covered by the system. That violated laws requiring that U.S. and foreign teachers be compensated equally.”

Almost all of the Post coverage, and all of the DoL statements, dealt with the mistreatment of the foreign teachers, a valid matter to discuss, but not with the displacement of American teachers at a time when many of them are being dismissed for financial reasons.

In this study I have examined data on the applications approved by the U.S. Department of Labor for kindergarten, elementary, and high school teachers in FY 2010. Bearing in mind that foreign worker programs tend to be more significant where foreign workers are concentrated, I have focused on those situations where there were groups of 10 or more. This study is confined to the 86 educational entities in this class.3An annotated table, showing all of the major K-12 employers of H-1B workers arrayed by location, follows.

In FY 2010, the Department of Labor certified 13,157 new K-12 jobs to be filled by H-1B workers, about 20 percent of the new certifications within the 65,000 general purpose ceiling; many other H-1B workers were approved for the 20,000 ceiling for those with advanced degrees, and others who came into the system outside of the numerical ceilings (primarily people in higher education.)

The H-1B K-12 educators were thus a small minority within the H-1B program, and a much smaller minority within the universe of kindergarten, elementary, and secondary teachers, but what did the use of this program by some school districts show?

My sense, after pouring over the detailed DoL data on this single year’s worth of K-12 certifications, is that some of the implications of this limited database are troublesome (in two different ways), some are bizarre, and others are puzzling. But before we get to the apparent consequences of the H-1B/K-12 mix, let’s look at the basic data.

The Database. The Department of Labor, commendably, and quite unlike the Departments of Homeland Security and State,4 has an extensive public database on its foreign worker programs. The one used is in this study is: H1-B Case Data FY2010.mdb. (Find it here.)

There is a line full of data for every single certification, omitting only the worker’s name (or the workers' names — some applications are for groups of workers.) There is the name and address of the employer, a notation as to what happened to the application, the job title, the promised wage, and several other variables. The applications are arrayed by the name of the employer and when multiple applications are filed, they are shown on the spreadsheet together.

While the data available are extensive, the H-1B program demands no test of the labor market by employers (to see if American workers are available for these jobs) and, for all practical purposes, routinely appears to make no initial decisions based on the level of the wages promised.

The Study Group. The 86 employers in the study group all had 10 or more certifications granted to them in FY 2010, for the admission of K-12 teachers. These 86 employers secured, in total, government approval to hire 10,065 new workers of the national total of 13,157 in this category; in other words, these 86 employers employed 76 percent of the new K-12 H-1Bs granted that year.

The 86 employers were not scattered randomly; rather, they were concentrated in New York City and in Texas. This was the geographic distribution (excluding states that had two or fewer studied employers, except Maryland) of the employers and the certifications they received:

Employers Certifications
Texas (32) 3,592
California (9) 357
Louisiana (7) 313
Arizona (4) 60
Georgia (3) 135
Illinois (3) 83
New Jersey (3) 45
New York (3) 4,563
North Carolina (3) 54
Maryland (2) 632
Other states (17) 438
 
Totals (86) 10,065

The greatest concentration of H-1B teachers was in the New York City school system; there were a total of 4,241 such teachers approved that year by DoL, a remarkable hiring practice that has not received much coverage in the city's press.

The second largest concentration was in Texas, where 3,592 new H-1B visas were authorized by DoL. Within Texas there was a still further concentration, in the Houston area, where nine of the 32 studied employers had Houston postal addresses, and six others were also in the Houston metro area.

Thirteen of the 15 Houston-area employers were local public school districts, and they had 2,231 certifications collectively; there were also 401 applications filed by the Houston-based Cosmos Foundation for a state-wide cluster of Turkish-sponsored charter schools, a Gülen organization, to be discussed later, and 10 by another charter school. The Greater Houston certifications thus add to 2,642, or about 20 percent of the K-12 certifications nationwide. The relatively nearby Dallas Independent School District (ISD) had 314 more.

Another major concentration of these certifications was in Maryland, where Baltimore City had 399 of them and Prince George’s County had 233 more, for a total of 632.

In addition to geographic concentrations there were some sub-occupational clusters as well. In the table that follows we noticed 305 special education teachers (people who work with physically and mentally disabled children) and 664 bilingual teachers (presumably, since most of the latter are in Texas, these are teachers of Hispanic children with little knowledge of English). Prince George’s County had the largest delegation of special educators, 80 in all, while 266 of Dallas’s 314 certifications were for bilingual teachers. The Alief, Texas, ISD (near Houston) called for 55 of its crop of 73 new H-1B teachers to be in bilingual education; this was the second largest concentration in that category.

H-1B visas are routinely good for three years and almost automatically renewable by a school for three more years; should an employer seek a labor certification for an H-1B holder (to sponsor him or her for permanent immigration), the beneficiary can get annual renewals until such time as the overall immigration waiting lists permit the issuance of a green card. Thus, while nominally a temporary visa, it can be made to be nearly permanent. All the numbers in this study apply to the “flow” (or arrivals) of new visa-holders, not to the much, much larger “stock” (or total population) of such persons, to use the demographers’ terminology.

Troublesome Implications. What, if anything, does all this granting of H-1B visas signify? I am sure it means quite different things to different people, such as the school superintendents who have found new recruiting grounds, and the overseas (or at least alien) teachers who are employed as a result.

Looking at it from a broader perspective, thinking in terms of immigration policy, the needs of the labor market, as well as educational policy, I find two troubling sets of implications, a bizarre one, and a puzzlement. Let’s take them in turn.

The most troubling set of apparent by-products of the H-1B/K-12 mix is what it does to the U.S. labor market. To what extent does it harm unemployed legally resident U.S. teachers, including Anglos, Blacks, and Hispanics, native-born and naturalized citizens, and lawful permanent residents (green card holders)? While non-mass hirings by school boards, like the placement of single teacher of Japanese, is of little concern, wholesale decisions to avoid the American labor market by these big educational employers strikes me as bad public policy.

These H-1B hirings were taking place just as school systems across the country were preparing to lay off tens of thousands of public school teachers.5 Couldn’t Houston and Dallas, for example, have looked to adjacent states for teachers rather than to distant nations? Aren’t there plenty of laid-off teachers within commuting distance of, say, Baltimore?

These systems must have decided that some foreign teachers were better than some American ones, perhaps because they are younger and cheaper, perhaps because they are more docile (being nonimmigrants on a nominally temporary visa) than American citizens. And the unthinking H-1B process said, in effect, “if the employers want ‘em, let ‘em come.”

This displacement issue is not spread around the nation, but rather is focused in the areas where the big school systems have gone for H-1B visas in a big way. Unemployed school teachers in the Dakotas are not hurt much by the system, but they would be were they to move south to the cities of Texas, or to the Baltimore area.

Further, the displacement falls inequitably on Hispanics because of the decision by school boards (primarily in Texas) to recruit bilingual teachers — at least 664 of them — from other nations. Why should Texas school boards look beyond Texas for bilingual speakers when Texas is full of them? If these schools need credentialed bilingual teachers, why don’t they do what the Boston system has done, do a little recruiting in Puerto Rico, a process considerably enhanced by the much higher salaries in Boston than on the island.6

In addition to the displacement of American teachers, the foreign teachers themselves are often treated badly — which is typical of nonimmigrant worker programs all over the world.

For example, the school system in Dayton, Ohio, handled its nonimmigrant worker obligations with so little skill or integrity that the Department of Labor, which rarely does this, formally debarred the system from participating in the H-1B program for three years on November 16, 2007. Oddly, except for the DOL notification,7 CIS has been unable to find any other reporting on the system’s violations.

Another instance in which temporary foreign teachers were abused was exposed in a publication by the Department of Professional Employees of the AFL-CIO entitled “Gaming the System: Guest Worker Visa program and Professional and Technical Workers in the U.S.”8 It was a story of about both teacher abuse and, and, in this case, lackluster DOL enforcement.

The AFL-CIO document reported:

A Case Study of an Abusive Visa Recruiter: Teachers Placement Group

The teacher recruitment firm Teachers Placement Group (TPG) recruits teachers from India to work in US schools and has attempted to charge their teachers unethical, illegal fees and even threatened to revoke their visas.

  • In May 2002, 15 foreign-trained teachers in Newark, N.J., asked the Newark Teachers’ Union to help invalidate their contracts which they were forced to sign and required the teachers to pay TPG 25% of their wages. To intimidate the new teachers, TPG threatened to revoke their visas if they did not sign the contract. The case was investigated by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division and TPG was initially required to pay $187,546 in back wages and was fined $120,000 for discrimination, failure to pay wages, and non-compliance with immigration law. However, TPG contested the decision and the charges were dropped. In the end, TPG paid a reduced fine of $3,050 per teacher.

In addition to U.S. teacher displacement and abuse of foreign workers, this part of the H-1B program, like all other segments of it, tends to lower wages, a subject discussed in the reports by Hira, Miano, and Matloff mentioned earlier.9

While teacher displacement and foreign teacher abuse are both adult issues, and often quantifiable ones, the other troubling implication of this program is a children’s issue, and a qualitative one. I worry that a large number of children — generally disadvantaged ones — are getting below-average quality educations because the schools are reaching beyond our borders (to lower their costs) to recruit foreign-trained teachers.

I am thinking of the concentrations of bilingual and special education teachers in these programs. Children needing bilingual education are, by definition, growing up in non-English speaking households, and are thus more likely to be living in poverty than the average small child. Children needing the attention of special education teachers, while they may be coming from differing economic strata, are by definition more needful of specialized attention than their peers.

So who gets a disproportionate amount of their education from non-U.S. trained teachers? Why, the ones who need extra attention the most! It is, at least in these districts, a troublesome reminder that even in kindergarten, “‘em that has, gits” and those that don’t, don’t.

A Bizarre Implication. It should not be surprising when two unrelated, casually designed, lightly-monitored government programs come together that there should be some odd results. The mix of charter schools (some of which are fine, many questionable) and the H-1B program, as used for school teachers, is an excellent example of the totally unintended consequences that can, and do, happen under these circumstances.

Both the charter schools and the H-1B program are examples of de-centralization, they involve large amounts of tax moneys, on one hand, and hundreds of thousands of job-giving visas, on the other, and neither process seems to be closely watched by any governmental agency.

Let’s switch gears for a moment, and thinking in this context, consider a metaphor.

Let’s suppose that many of the charter schools in the United States, all funded by taxpayer dollars, were run by the Associated Powdered Wig Enthusiasts of America, a set of strong-willed, assertive managers, skilled at raising money from public sources. They had talked the local school boards into giving them many charters and, like all other schools, they had ready access to the H-1B program.

Now given their enthusiasm, and the usual control that teachers and principals have over their students, these hypothetical charter schools offered powdered-wig making courses, and talked many of the students into taking these courses. The problem for the schools, then, was that no Americans know how to make powdered wigs, so the teachers would have to be imported from nations (such as the U.K.) where such wigs are routinely made for lawyers and judges. The Powdered Wig Charter Schools would then apply for H-1B teachers of powdered wig-making, and the Labor Department would rubber stamp the applications.

That there is no natural U.S. market for these courses, and that the teaching jobs would not exist except for the peculiar demands of these charter schools, would be of no matter, because if an employer fills in the forms correctly the employer gets what he or she wants. So the migration of teachers of powdered wig-making would begin, all of whom would be 100 percent supported by the taxpayers.

That sounds highly unlikely, but it is exactly what is happening, in real life, with K-12 teachers of Turkish; there were 59 new certifications of them nationwide in 2010.

Now, I have nothing against teachers of powdered wig-making or of the Turkish language, but I wonder if our educational and our immigration systems should be twisted out of shape to make it possible to import such unlikely specialists and place them on the public payroll.

Let’s step back a moment and look at the market for linguistic instruction in the school systems. There is probably no public school system in the country that offers Turkish as a K-12 elective, because there is no demand for it. The normal labor market demand for teachers of Turkish at the primary and secondary level is, presumably, zero.

Look at the numbers; Census data indicate that one out of 1,300 residents of the United States is a Turkish national, so if you live in a small town of 13,000 there would be on average, 10 Turks in it. Think about it another way, when is the last time you saw a Turkish restaurant in America?

Since the Turkish population in the United States is so small (it is 39th on the list of nations sending us immigrants according to the 2009 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics )10 and since Turkey is not a large economic or military power, the lack of interest in that language at the K-12 level is totally understandable. 11

Yet, the data source I used showed 59 separate certifications of people to teach pre-college Turkish. All were approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, and all were headed toward taxpayer-supported jobs. What’s going on here?

It turns out — something unknown to me until a month ago — that there is a powerful movement inspired by a Turk, now in residence in the Poconos, named Fethullah Gülen; the outlines of the organization behind it, if there is one, are obscure, perhaps deliberately obscured, but what it does is to organize charter schools with a stated emphasis on science and math, and it relies heavily on the H-1B process to recruit teachers, including the 59 teachers of Turkish at the K-12 levels noted above.

According to a piece of investigative journalism by the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “U.S. charter-school network with Turkish line draws federal attention,”12 Gülen is:

... a major Islamic political figure in Turkey [who] ... gained his green card by convincing a federal judge in Philadelphia that he was an influential educational figure in the United States.

As evidence, his lawyer pointed to the charter schools, now more than 120 in 25 states, that his followers — Turkish scientists, engineers and businessmen — have opened including Truebright Science Academy in North Philadelphia and another charter in State College, PA.

The schools are funded with millions of taxpayer dollars. Truebright alone receives more than $3 million from the Philadelphia School District for 348 pupils ... .

Our study of the 86 major K-12 employers of H-1B workers included 13 Gülen entities in 12 states, but did not cover either of those in Pennsylvania because in FY 2010 neither of them sought more than nine certifications. In short, the phenomenon reported by the Inquirer is on a much larger scale than can be seen in this CIS study.

The Inquirer article reports that the Gülen entities, in 25 states in FY 2009, had 684 approved visas. Our study, dealing with only 12 of those states, showed 686 approvals in the following year, meaning that the Gülen charters were either expanding quite rapidly, or were using a yet larger percentage of foreign workers in them, or both.

The Inquirer report continued: “Unlike in Turkey, where Gülen’s followers have been accused of pushing for an authoritarian Islamic state, there is no indication the American charter network has a religious agenda in the classroom. Religious scholars consider the Gülen strain of Islam moderate, and the investigation has no link to terrorism. Rather it is focused on whether hundreds of Turkish teachers, administrators, and other staffers employed under the H-1B visa program are misusing taxpayer money.”

The newspaper report did not mention the teaching of Turkish in these schools, nor the hiring of teachers of Turkish via the H-1B program.

The article said that Ruth Hocker, a one-time leader of a parents’ group at one of the Gülen schools in Pennsylvania, “began asking questions when popular, certified American teachers were replaced by uncertified Turkish men who often spoke limited English and were paid higher salaries.” Most were placed in math and science classes.

“They would tell us they couldn’t find qualified American teachers,” Hocker said. “That made no sense in Pennsylvania State University’s hometown,” she said. “They graduate here every year.”

The relationships between this movement and the immigration system have not always been easy. According to the article, Gülen’s initial application for admission as an “alien of outstanding ability” was initially rejected by USCIS. Though the newspaper does not point this out, that’s quite interesting, because USCIS is typically an agency that likes to say yes, but it did not do so in Gülen’s case. In this instance, Gülen managed to get a federal judge to reverse the staff decision.

Anyone who, once rejected by the immigration system personally, and who now runs a movement that gets hundreds and hundreds of favorable H-1B decisions every year, must be either very lucky, or must retain a skilled squad of immigration lawyers.

It is within this strange context, then, that a powerful set of charter schools filed, successfully, for 59 pre-college teachers of Turkish in FY 2010. Bizarre.

A Puzzling Aspect. If labor markets are working smoothly, and are not twisted by peculiar forces, you would expect that workers of a given class would be paid about as much in one location as they would in a nearby one.

Thinking about Newark, N.J., and New York, N.Y., you probably know that they are a dozen miles apart, and that Newark has greater financial difficulties than the Big Apple, and so you might think that salaries would be a bit lower in Newark than in NYC.

Routinely, I am sure, but not when K-12 and H-1B mix. As you can see by the entries in the table that follows, New York City pays all of its H-1B teachers at the same rate, $45,530 a year, while Newark provides a range of starting salaries from $89,466 to $113,051.

Wouldn’t it make sense for the Newark system to put someone on the PATH subway to New York, and try to lure New York teachers to work on the other side of the Hudson for a bit more money than they are now getting? Apparently not.

While the NYC offer was within the rough ballpark of average salaries offered, nationally, poor Newark was proposing to pay more than any other jurisdiction listed in our table, and twice to two-and-a-half times more than New York City.

Maybe the Newark school officials should look into one of those math classes the Turks are offering.


School System, City and State (arrayed by state and, within states, by city) Number of New H-1B Certifications for Teachers, FY 2010a Salary Ranges and Notes (salaries the petitioning employer proposes to pay)b
Window Rock Unified School District, Fort Defiance, Ariz. 17 $28,140-$40,691; six of the 17 are special education teachers
Sonoran Science Academy, Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; said to be a Gülen Schoolc 15 $28,800-$34,200; mostly science and math, and two teachers of Turkish
Roosevelt School District # 66, Phoenix, Ariz. 12 $36,478-$42,123
Daisy Education Corporation, Tucson, Ariz.; said to be a Gülen Schoolc 16 $28,800-$46,000; most on the list are math or science teachers; this is the only listed Gülen School that did not seek teachers of Turkish
Little Scholars of Ark., Little Rock, Ark.; said to be a Gülen Schoolc 23 $35,420-$41,000; two of these are to teach Turkish
Ravenswood City School District, East Palo Alto, Calif. 16 $43,817 offer to all; five of the 16 are special education teachers
Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, Calif. 119 Most of the teachers are to be hired at $45,637; the other, a science teacher, will be paid $73,251
Oakland Unified School District, Oakland, Calif. 16 $39,456-$64,891; four of the 16 are bilingual teachers
Pasadena Independent School District 35 $38,900 for elementary teachers
West Contra Costa Unified School District, Richmond, Calif. 28 $31,561-$65,019; of the 25, 12 are for special education teachers; more recently the system decided to lay off many teachers
French American International School, San Francisco, Calif. and Portland, Ore. 19 $37,190-$66,290; 11 of the 19 are bilingual teachers, and three are French teachers
Lycee Francais La Perouse, San Francisco, Calif. 13 $54,529-$67,616; of these, 11 are bilingual teachers
Santa Clara County Office of Education, San Jose, Calif. 10 $44,950-$97,081
Magnolia Education and Research Foundation; Westminster, and other Calif. locations; said to be a Gülen Schoolc 41 $42,000-$60,000; mostly math and science teachers, but two are teachers of Turkish
Denver Public School District 1, Colo. 15 $36,050-$55,294; of the 15, 11 are either bilingual teachers or ESL teachers
Wellspring Cultural and Educational Foundation, West Haven, Conn.; said to be a Gülen Schoolc 12 $40,000-$43,600; mostly science and math but one teacher of Turkish
School District of Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Fla. 20 $36,822-$46,130
Atlanta Public Schools, Atlanta, Georgia 25 $44,312 for secondary teachers
Global Teachers Research and Resources Inc., Morrow, Ga.; a teacher placement organization 98 On March 10, 2011, presumably after these certifications were issued, Global was forced by the Department of Labor to repay $78,000 to its teachers; the wage range is $31,780-$41,040; of the 98, 10 are special education teachers
Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education, Savannah, Ga. 12 $51,310-$87,852; seven of the 12 are special education teachers
St. Paul’s Charter School, Hagatna, Guam 13 most to be paid $17.72/hour; Guam often hires Filipina school teachers
Chicago Schools, Chicago, Ill. 46 $48,000 offer to all; all are simply labeled “teachers”; note the Elgin wages, below.
Elgin School District U-46, Elgin, Ill.; this suburb has a per capita income about $1,000 a year more than Chicago 13 $60,120 offer to all (note comparison to Chicago); all are bilingual teachers
Waukegan Public Schools, Waukegan, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, with a lower per capita income than the city by about $3,500 a year. 24 $34,751-$55,952; 14 of the 24 are bilingual teachers, and another will focus on “elementary school sheltered English”; note the wide range of wages in the Chicago area
Indiana Math and Science Academy, Indianapolis, Ind.; said to be a group of Gülen Schoolsc 23 $28,500-$43,100; both a Turkish teacher and a computer science teacher are to be paid at the bottom of the scale
Unified School District #259, Sedgewick County, Wichita, Kan. 17 $37,998-$40,940 with 15 of the 17 at the lower figure
East Baton Rouge Schools, East Baton Rouge, La. 181 $43,536-$65,454; of the 181, 53 are special ed. teachers or had similar assignments
Lafayette Parish Schools, Lafayette, La. 11 $40,427-$50,624; of the 11, five are French teachers; this is in a historically French-speaking part of the state
East Carroll Parish Schools, Lake Providence, La. 15 $32,893-$38,629
Avoyellos Parish; Marksville, La.; near Baton Rouge 22 $34,469-$44,384; the highest was for a science teacher
Pelican Educational Foundation, New Orleans, La.; said to one of the Gülen Schoolsc 13 $35,710-$55,340; most of the petitions are for math and science teachers, but there are also three teachers of Turkish
Caddo Parish; Shreveport, La. 49 $38,145-$45,184; 29 of the 49 are in special education
LaFource Parish Schools, Thibodaux, La. 22 36,900-$49,634; 16 of the 22 are French teachers; this is in a historically French speaking part of the state
Baltimore City Schools, Md. 399 $36,000-$84,458; with many steps along the way; highest salary is for a middle school special education teacher
Prince George’s County Board of Education, Upper Marlboro, Md. On April 4, 2011, the Dept. of Labor ordered it to pay $5.9 million in fines and back wages to 1,000 H-1B teachers 233 For the AFL-CIO’s take on the PG County system, see p. 35 of the electronic version of its report, “Gaming the System”

The salary range is $40,000-$91,752; of the 233 teachers, 80 are in special education.

Sportsmen’s Tennis Club, Dorchester, Mass. 3d $24,000 for each of the three tennis instructors, the second lowest annual salary in this table
Boston Higashi School, Randolph, Mass. 121 A school for children and young adults with autism; some controversy is reported: $33,000 for resident instructors II
Milkway Educational Center, Clifton, N.J. 18 $44,980-$49,810; most are math and science teachers
Japanese Children’s Society, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., near New York City 15 $15.00-$26.32 per hour; it is hard to compare pay, in the few cases using hourly pay instead of an annual salary, as we do not know the hours worked
Newark Board of Education, Newark, N.J. 12 Highest salaries offered, from $89,466-$113,051; all termed “teachers”
Gallup-McKinley County Schools, Gallup, N.M. 15 $31,593-$43,024; low salary goes to a science teacher
The Institute Foundation, New York, N.Y. 13 $12.08-$12.71 per hour; this is the lowest hourly rate in this table; the organization has no visible website
Lycee Francais de New York, New York, N.Y. 102 Most to be paid $44,312: secondary teachers
New York City Department of Education, New York, N.Y. 4,241 Largest single user of the H-1B program for teachers; all to be paid $45,530;
Guilford County Schools, Greensboro, N.C. 16 $34,730-$58,680; five of these are ESL teachers, and six are teachers of Spanish Immersion
Washington County Schools, Plymouth, N.C. 28 $31,910-$33,050; eight of them are special education teachers
Wilson County Schools, Wilson, N.C. 10 $32,640-$49,750
Horizon Education Services, Inc., Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo & Youngstown, Ohio; said to be Gülen schoolsc 71 $33,400-$56,000; among those sought are six teachers of Turkish, and at the high end of the pay scale, a special education teacher
Dayton Public Schools, Dayton, Ohio. The debarment by the DoL was, as best we can tell, not covered in the Dayton Daily News when it happened. 1 These schools are of interest primarily because it was one of the rare school systems debarred from using the H-1B program on 11/16/07; it is no longer debarred. The system has been granted a certification for one intervention specialist to be paid $37,141
Sky Foundation, Oklahoma City, Okla.; said to one of the Gülen Schoolsc 27 $32,139-$35,000; mostly science and math teachers, and three teachers of Turkish
Mullins School District # 2, Nichols, S.C., near Florence 10 $41,500-$48,497; six of the 10 are to be special education teachers
Unique Service Association, Orangeburg, S.C. 11 $33,000-$40,940; four of the 11 are special education teachers
Aldine Independent School District (ISD); Aldine, Texas; near Houston 146 $43,800-$48,000; this is one of many Houston area systems using H-1B
Alief ISD; Alief, Texas; near Houston 73 $45,500-$49,500; 55 of them are to be bilingual teachers
Arlington, Texas 25 $44,500 is the pay
Austin ISD, Austin, Texas 31 $38,260-$42,025; all but six of the 31 are to be bilingual teachers
Bryan ISD, Bryan, Texas 27 $36,000-$47,532; at least 23 of the slots were for bilingual teachers
Conroe ISD, Conroe, Texas; just north of Houston 34 $43,000-$49,360; two of them teach Japanese; 14 are bilingual teachers
Corsicana ISD, Texas; southeast of Dallas 19 $39,350-$51,650; nine of them are bilingual teachers
Dallas ISD, Dallas, Texas 314 $44,350-$68,038; of the 314, 266 are bilingual teachers; the highest pay, not unexpectedly, went to a high school science teacher
Golden Rule Charter Schools, Dallas, Texas 96 $36,000-$46,000; of the 96 ten are in special education
Denton ISD, Denton, Texas 30 $46,800-$49,300; of the 30, 29 are bilingual teachers and one is in special education
Fort Worth ISD, Fort Worth, Texas 13 $43,215-$50,304; nine of the 13 are bilingual teachers
Garland ISD, Garland, Texas 74 $31,500-$51,451; of the 74 there were 43 bilingual teachers, and six in special education
Cosmos Foundation, a chain of charter schools; it has an Islamic orientation; the headquarters are in Houston, Texas; other locations in Texas include: Brownsville, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Garland, Grand Prairie, Laredo, San Antonio, Odessa, and Waco. A critique can be found here. 401 The largest single non-public user of H-1B teacher visas for K-12. Also known as Harmony Public Schools, although these are not public schools. The entity is funded almost exclusively by local taxpayers. Salary ranges were from $31,600 to $68,000 for an assistant principal. Many teachers of math and science, and 36 teachers of Turkish, are on the list. Said to be Gülen Schools.c
Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, Houston, Texas 15 $42,000-$50,250; nine of the 15 are to be bilingual teachers
Energized for Excellence Academy, Houston, Texas 170 $38,900-$46,982; a charter school
Galena Park ISD, Houston, Texas 22 $38,900-$57,877; of the 22, nine are bilingual teachers
Houston ISD, Houston, Texas 1,505 The second largest user of H-1Bs as teachers; most are paid $44,987
North Forest ISD, Houston, Texas 13 $38,900-$47,425; nine of the 13 are bilingual teachers
Spring Branch ISD, Houston, Texas 43 $45,000-$49,119; 28 of them are bilingual teachers
Varnett Public Schools, Houston, Texas 29 All at $38,900 and all are elementary teachers
Young Learners Schools, Houston, Texas 10 $20,000-$35,773; all are to be special education teachers; the $20,000 is the lowest annual salary in this table
Humble ISD, Humble, Texas 50 $42,500 wages, just north of Houston
Irving ISD, Irving, Texas 14 $48,300-$54,040; ten of the 14 are bilingual teachers
Jacksonville ISD, Jacksonville, Texas, near Tyler 12 $33,000-$38,935; all are bilingual teachers
Longview ISD, Longview, Texas 10 $40,280-$45,480; six of the 10 are bilingual teachers
Mesquite ISD, Mesquite, Texas, near Dallas 11 $45,900-$51,088; nine of the 11 are bilingual teachers
Pasadena ISD, Pasadena, Texas, near Houston 11 $43,692-$49,412; ten of the 11 are bilingual teachers
Pharr San Juan Alamo ISD, Pharr, Texas, in the lower Rio Grande Valley 11 $37,570-$55,340; one of the very few schools to use H-1B to recruit a dance teacher
Port Arthur ISD, Port Arthur, Texas 14 $38,660-$43,700; eight of the 14 are bilingual teachers
Riverwalk Educational Foundation, San Antonio, Texas; said to be a Gülen Schoolc 44 $35,990-$51,000; mostly math and science, and three teachers of Turkish
Fort Bend ISD, Sugar Land, Texas 120 $44,500-$52,162; 11 of the 120 are bilingual teachers
Tyler ISD, Tyler, Texas 205 $39,500-$58,000; 17 of the 37 are bilingual teachers
Virgin Islands Department of Education, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 43 $33,700-$46,400; of the 43, 13 are special education teachers
Norfolk Schools, Norfolk, Va. 13 $38,000-$55,761

Note: tabulations compiled for CIS by David North, March 2011; source is H1-B Case Data, FY2010.mdb from the U.S. Department of Labor.

a The number is just the total of new H-1B certifications issued in FY 2010; these visas are routinely issued for three-year periods and are routinely renewable for another three, so that a school district which has been using the H-1B program for some years could easily have up to six times as many H-1B employees as shown in this table. The count is for certifications that have been granted by DOL, and does not include denied or withdrawn applications. In some cases a granted certification is not used, and, rarely, some are not accepted by either the Department of State or the Department of Homeland Security.

b These are the proposed salaries on the H-1B applications from column O on the DoL spreadsheet; it is not known to what extent teachers are actually paid these salaries, or what fees are charged to them, as many are recruited by for-profit middlemen.

c Said to be a Gülen Charter School, named after a Turkish educator; there apparently is a controversy about this fast-growing set of charter schools, with the even the identification of specific schools with this movement being a matter of dispute. See a critical view, and a list of these schools; for another view see the citation to the home page of the Cosmos Foundation, noted in the Houston, Texas part of the list.

Schools in this category appear to be the only ones using the H-1B program to import teachers of Turkish. The schools are charter schools, thus almost completely funded by local taxes. CIS calls the ongoing dispute about this group of schools to the reader’s attention without offering any judgments about it.

d The lower limit we have routinely observed for inclusion in this table is ten new H-1B certifications in FY 2010; but we could not resist reporting this one, given the remarkably low wages offered. The place operates year-around and has both indoor and outdoor courts (Employer’s web page).

The other exception to the 10-or-more criterion is the Dayton, Ohio, school system, the only K-12 educational entity known to CIS to have been debarred by DoL from participating in the H-1B program.


End Notes

1 For more on the adverse effects of the H-1B program see the writings of Ron Hira of the Rochester Institute of Technology, John Miano, and Norm Matloff of UC-Davis; and a statement from Bill Gates, arguing in the other direction.

2 See "US Dept. of Labor orders Md. school system to pay millions to mostly Filipino teachers", washingtonpost.com, April 4, 2011.

3 Strictly speaking, there are 84 employers that obtained 10 or more new H-1B certifications for K-12 teachers, and two other employers, obtaining lower numbers of approved applications in FY 2010, that were included in the universe for reasons noted in the table. The grouping will be referenced as 86 employers in the text.

4 For instance, the R-1 program for religious workers at DHS, and the J-1 program for exchange visitors at State, both of which are really nonimmigrant worker programs, lack the databases that DoL routinely makes available.

5 Among the school systems using the H-1B program is New York City, which is expected to lay off 4,700 teachers this year; see Javier C. Hernandez, "Bloomberg’s Budget to Include Teacher Layoffs," The New York Times, February 16, 2011.

6 See Tracy Jan, "Bilingual teachers wanted: Boston schools recruiting in Puerto Rico," the Boston Globe, March 18, 2008.

7 See the Department of Labor's H-1B Willful Violator List of Employers.

8 “Gaming the System: Guest Worker Visa program and Professional and Technical Workers in the U.S.,” Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, December 2009, p. 33.

9 See Note 1.

10 Office of Immigration Statistics, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C., 2010; calculated from Table 2 in “Persons Obtaining Legal Permanent Resident Status by Region and Selected Country of Last Residence,” using migration from 1990 to 1999.

11 The teaching of Turkish at the university level is a different matter. Some decades ago, when I attended a then all-male East Coast institution, Turkish was one of at least a dozen languages on offer. We students speculated at the time that those attending the small Turkish classes were either people aspiring for jobs in the Foreign Service, or CIA operatives sent to the campus for training. The same was said then of the students of the language formerly known as Persian.

12 See Martha Woodall and Claudio Gatti, "U.S. charter-school network with Turkish link draws federal attention," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 2011. For other sources of information on this group see the entry for the Cosmos Foundation, Houston, Texas, in the table above.