GLENDALE, Ariz. — The latest wave of foreign workers sweeping into American jobs brought Donato Soberano from the Philippines to Arizona two years ago. He had to pay thousands of dollars to a job broker and lived for a time in an apartment with five other Filipino workers. The lure is the pay — 10 times more than what he made doing the same work back home.
But Mr. Soberano is not a hospitality worker or a home health aide. He is in another line of work that increasingly pays too little to attract enough Americans: Mr. Soberano is a public-school teacher.
As walkouts by teachers protesting low pay and education funding shortfalls spread across the country, the small but growing movement to recruit teachers from overseas is another sign of the difficulty some districts are having providing the basics to public-school students.
Among the latest states hit by the protests was Arizona, where teacher pay is more than $ 10,000 below the national average of $ 59,000 per year. (A week into a statewide teacher walkout there, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a budget bill on Thursday that he said would provide teachers with the 20 percent raises they had demanded, in addition to new funds for classrooms.) The Pendergast Elementary School District, where Mr. Soberano works, has recruited more than 50 teachers from the Philippines since 2015. They hold J-1 visas, which allow them to work temporarily in the United States, like au pairs or camp counselors, but offer no path to citizenship. More than 2,800 foreign teachers arrived on American soil last year through the J-1, according to the State Department, up from about 1,200 in 2010.
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