Houston — Importing teachers from foreign countries may not be a panacea for the nation's teacher shortage. But education officials in Georgia, which implemented a widely publicized program two years ago to bring in West German teachers, have found that the benefits extend beyond merely filling empty teaching slots. ``We got more than the highly educated and well-trained teachers in science and math we'd set out for,'' says Werner Rogers, Georgia's associate state superintendent.
``We also got the benefits of the cultural exchange, which was an aspect we hadn't been looking for. And then the press gave them quite a bit of coverage, which drew heightened attention to a need we'd been trying to highlight for some time,'' Dr. Rogers adds.
The Georgia program has consciously been kept small -- bringing in only eight teachers -- in case the experiment ended up a failure. But according to Rogers, the state is now pleased enough with the results that it's ready to recruit an additional 20 Germans.
Rogers says the biggest hurdle in importing teachers is working with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
He says the state actually worked as a representative for individual school districts, since both INS and German officials worked more easily with state officials. He noted that the INS wants to know that the party it's dealing with will be able to license the workers in question, ``and licensing is, of course, a state function.''
The Germans were granted a maximum three-year visa, says Werner, but he notes that three of the eight have since filed for permanent residence status.
-- H. L.