Lauren Villagran, Searchlight NM - Foreign Teachers Take Jobs and Get Ripped Off

Lauren Villagran, Searchlight NM
Foreign Teachers Take Jobs and Get Ripped Off


Here’s good snapshot of the misery of America today: Teaching in our public schools has become one of those “jobs no American wanted.”

And people wonder why across whole generations, our kids are mad at us.

They got the schools we gave them: The schools with teachers so poorly paid, so badly treated, so stressed by politically-imposed standardized tests they leave, and leave behind a national deficit of thousands of posted teaching jobs going unfilled every year.

Finding teachers for those classrooms American teachers find unattractive has become a profit-making industry, importing teachers from places like India and the Philippines and placing them in places like Albuquerque, Hobbs or Questa, New Mexico.

In New Mexico, globally recruiting teachers has become a kind of cottage industry with four leading companies run respectively by “a working teacher, a recently resigned (state) Public Education Department employee, a district superintendent or the close relative of a superintendent.”

The person I’m quoting here is our guest for today, Lauren Villagran, investigative reporter for Searchlight New Mexico, a fine online news site.

Lauren’s deep reporting, involving “dozens of interviews with recruiters, foreign teachers, school administrators, union leaders and others” raises some important questions:

Are the teacher-recruiters providing a valuable and necessary service to school districts in desperate need?

Are they exploiting foreign teachers with high fees, few real services, and compensation rates, working and living conditions that leave them feeling cheated?

Does the J-1 Visa process that covers the imported teacher business, as run by the Federal government, hold down American teachers’ wages, enable predatory recruiting of foreign teachers and leave them in, as one union official called it, “indentured servitude”?

And is the bottom line to all of this that America’s children are being shaped by teachers who are justifiably aggrieved, not to mention completely stressed-out?



Lauren Villagran has covered the financial and energy markets in New York, the drug war in Mexico and immigration and border security in New Mexico. Formerly the Albuquerque Journal’s border correspondent, she has also reported for the Associated Press, Dallas Morning News and Christian Science Monitor, among other national media. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and is based in southern New Mexico for Searchlight NM.  Contact her at

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