SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - They heeded the call when the Savannah-Chatham public school system was searching the world over for qualified teachers willing to take math, science and special education jobs that had been vacant for years.
For six years a group of foreign teachers worked the jobs no one else would. They worked to motivate struggling math and science students at inner-city middle and high schools and saw to the needs of wheelchair bound adolescents with severe developmental disabilities.
In 2011, after four years of service, Savannah-Chatham public school officials agreed to spend $185,600 to sponsor permanent residency for them but abruptly ended the process after deciding there are now probably enough qualified, American teachers who might want those jobs.
As the foreign teachers' temporary work visas begin to expire at the end of the school year, they will have to leave their jobs and the country.
"We have had very valued international teachers," said school board president Joe Buck. "But in today's economy, as a result of the recession, we've had huge numbers of citizens who are looking for work, and we are not needing to go abroad to recruit anymore."
In 2004, the public school system went to the Philippines and recruited 58 educators from top schools and universities to fill critical areas of need in Savannah's public schools.
For more than a decade the district has recruited teachers from Jamaica, India and Romania to teach math, science and special education.
Few Americans choose to specialize in those academic areas. Many find the responsibility of teaching students to master a complex subject like calculus hard enough. Being held accountable for math progress at poor performing schools with students who come to class struggling and behind can be downright unappealing.