Across the Pacific, thousands of teaching jobs are vacant.
On recent shopping trip to Trader Joe’s, I discovered that the guy bagging my groceries was a laid-off elementary-school teacher. He'd taught for eight years and planned to be a teacher for life until the budget cuts that have raised class sizes and sent pink slips to tens of thousands of teachers nationwide put that dream on ice. “Know anywhere that’s hiring?” he asked me. “China,” I replied.
Indeed, a booming population and increased demand for education across the Pacific has left schools struggling to fill teaching vacancies, particularly for kindergarten teachers. According to Asian Correspondent, school leaders showed up to a recent job fair in Hebei province looking to fill nearly 9,000 positions. Only 810 applicants showed up, giving prospective teachers plenty of options.
Kindergarten teachers are in such demand in China that one applicant, Lin Li, spent a little over an hour at the fair and "had three kindergartens agree to sign me." Kindergartens that serve students from wealthy families are recruiting across the country, offering vocational-school graduates twice the average salary of recent four-year university grads, plus insurance and housing.
The language barrier means teaching in China isn't an option for the thousands of laid-off American educators, like the one I met at the market. Until states stop gutting education budgets, he'll have to keep making ends meet stocking shelves and bagging groceries.