According to reports, a Florida school district plans to hire 140 teachers from South America amid the immediate staffing crisis.
The Osceola County School District has contracted with a firm that will identify qualified candidates who can quickly fill required positions.
“Unfortunately, we have this situation, and we – and I have to – think outside the box and think creatively,” said school board vice president Julius Melendez, according to WESH.
Melendez blamed the crunch for a number of problems – including upheaval from the coronavirus pandemic, low wages and even fears of mass shootings.
He said the district was struggling to retain the existing veteran teachers and recruit new ones.
“If tomorrow we had a bunch of people who said, ‘I want to be a teacher,’ then this contract would be null and void and we wouldn’t need it at all,” he told the outlet.
Candidates must first obtain a J-1 federal visa after official screening before being checked by the Florida Department of Education.
Melendez said the agency will determine whether their teaching certificates match the needs and standards of the district.
Officials note that of the district’s nearly 60,000 students, about 60 percent are Hispanic.
Reportedly, the plan has run into some local opposition.
The objectors argue that the district should not be outsourcing local jobs – especially in the education sector.
The officials have promised to hire the qualified local candidates first.
Other parents welcomed the newcomer.
“Let them come,” said parent Caroline Orezuela. “They are qualified to teach our children, our future.”
School districts across the country have struggled to fill positions in recent years, and teacher surveys reveal growing dissatisfaction with the profession.
A 2021 survey of more than 1,000 New York City teachers found that 60 would drop out if they could.