Teachers face global competition

In a Washington Post story on offshore tutors — typically well-educated Indians helping American kids with math and science — a union official deplores:

“We don’t believe that education should become a business of outsourcing,” said Rob Weil, deputy director of educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers. “When you start talking about overseas people teaching children, it just doesn’t seem right to me.”

Quality control isn’t the real issue, writes Martin Davis of Gadfly.

Just what “doesn’t seem right” isn’t clear. But here’s a good guess: Weil, like a lot of Americans, is realizing that there are many capable people outside our borders. And they’re not just making the shirts we wear and the cars we drive. They’re competing with educated Americans. And for those with a stake in keeping control over the teaching profession (and by this I mean the unions, not the teachers they represent), that’s a frightening proposition. When it comes to free trade and globalization, all unions stand stalwartly opposed.

Most offshore tutors specialize in math, chemistry, physics or biology, Davis notes. Cultural differences aren’t an issue.

My daughter’s geometry and calculus teacher was recruited from Bulgaria. Increasingly, if students are to learn from teachers who know math well, more will come from overseas.

About Joanne


  1. Wayne Martin says:

    Can there be any doubt why so many technology jobs here in the US are being outsourced to Asia?

  2. Indigo Warrior says:

    It is a factor of quality control. Too many Americans for too long believed quality and quality control to be un-American. Now this attitude has come home to roost and bite them in the ass. It is precisely because Asian specialists offer “scabby” quality services with a “faggoty” fine attention to detail that they are so high-in-demand.

    Is Bulgaria part of Asia now?

  3. Bulgaria’s the capital of Indianapolis, a state of the former Union of Sodium Sociologists Republics.

    I’ll bet those Indian tutors don’t know that!

  4. Wayne Martin says:

    > Teachers unions are vigorously lobbying
    > for legislation that would make it more
    > difficult for overseas tutors to receive
    > No Child Left Behind funds.

    Incredible. This lot has made an utter mess of the situation, and now they want the Congress to outlaw people who can possible help these kids from doing so.

    > Weil, of the American Federation of Teachers,
    > said after-school tutors should be required
    > to pass the same rigorous certification
    > process as public school teachers.

    Insane, simply insane. Tutoring (particularly one-on-one, such as thru Instant Messenger, or video conferencing, or even just the telephone requires only that tutor know his/her subject, and have some empathy with the person being tutored as having difficulty in that subject.

    Maybe it’s way past time to get rid of “the rigourous certification process” which seems to have delivered a lot of teachers into classrooms who aren’t well versed in the topics they are assigned to teach. If the tutor was able to help the people identified in this article, why weren’t the class room teachers able to get the same material across?

  5. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘”We don’t believe that education should become a business of outsourcing,” ‘

    He’d prefer them just to be ignorant.

  6. Nope. The teacher’s unions didn’t make an utter mess of the situation, Weil isn’t insane and he doesn’t want America’s kids to be ignorant.

    The teacher’s unions are creatures of the system and are simply taking advantage of the system to the best of their ability and as opportunity allows.

    I know that conflicts with the Noble Teacher® meme but teachers are people and people act in their own self-interest, finding rationalizations, like the Noble Teacher® meme, to justify their actions.