Going to great lengths for math (Business Week article)

May 28, 2007

By hammersmith

[Source: Moira Herbst, Business Week] — A few years ago, when she was a Catholic school teacher in the city of Cebu, Philippines, Juditha Capa started looking for a change. She loved her work, but she had grown restless after 13 years in the same locale. So when she heard about the opportunity to move to the U.S. and become a teacher in the New York City public schools, she jumped at the chance. “Since I was small, I had a longing to mix with other cultures, and to have adventure,” says Capa. “So the moment I heard I could go to New York, I applied immediately. It was very competitive, so for me it was a sign of God when I was accepted.”

Capa came to the U.S. on what is known as an H-1B visa, a temporary work program for people with hard-to-find skills. Most of the visas go to tech workers who end up at companies like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, or Intel. The New York City public schools is the most active user of the visas among educational institutions, receiving 642 H-1B visas in fiscal 2006. Like many schools and universities, it has a hard time finding Americans to teach certain topics, including math and science, at the salaries it is offering. People with those skills usually can earn more in technology, engineering, or consulting. The city’s public schools now employ 1,700 foreign nationals on H-1Bs. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]