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International Teachers Used to Fill Vacancies in Rural Colorado Schools

Schools in rural Colorado are relying on international teachers to fill open teaching positions in the midst of a statewide teacher shortage, according to a story by Colorado Public Radio (CPR).

This year, enrollment in Colorado's teacher preparation programs is down 23 percent compared to five years ago, with many shortages in math, science, and special education. In rural districts, where pay may be lower, it can be especially hard to lure teachers. Some districts have recruited teachers from the Philippines or Japan who are looking for a change of pace or a different teaching experience than is offered in their home country. 

Bethune School District Superintendent Shila Adolf told CPR that the district doesn't get any applications from American applicants when it posts open positions, partly due to lucrative salaries in other industries. "Even selling tractors makes more money here," Adolf said. "They're guaranteed to start at $20,000 more than us."

Other rural states like Alaska have also struggled to find teachers, often relying on recruiting events in other states to attract educators. In Arizona, some rural districts offer housing subsidies and pay for visas to attract international teachers. Arizona's Ajo Unified School District has relied on international teachers to fill 40 percent of its teaching positions.

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