Cashing In: Selling Public Schooling to International Students

How much do you think a spot in a small town public school classroom cost? Try around $15,000 a year.

Many rural schools are struggling to stay afloat due to tax cuts and a drop in enrollment. With fewer students enrolled in the school, less money is being provided by the government. To drive more money to these small-scale public schools, administrators are putting classroom seats up for sale.

According to a Yahoo News article, rural schools from states like New York, Arkansas, Maine, and Pennsylvania are recruiting international students in hopes of providing financial security to the schools.

Foreign Recruits: What students are buying American school seats?

Wealthy families from countries like China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia who can speak English are the target recruits for American school seat sales. They need to be willing to pay the price for both the schooling and housing during their kids in the States. Some of these families are paying $10,000 – $15,000 a year for their child to attend an American public school, while others are dolling out as much as $30,000.

Not only are these foreign families ready and willing to send their teen to a rural U.S. town, but they also usually have a long-term goal in mind: to get their kids into a U.S. college. Sounds like a win-win, right? Not everyone agrees.

While some community members and school administrators believe this is a great opportunity, many have expressed concerns over these pricey deals.

Here are some of the pros and cons that have been voiced about selling small town public schooling to international students.

Upside for Selling School Seats

More School Funding

The main goal of this new movement is simple: money. The administrators are turning to this international recruiting as a means to bring in more money for their school. Securing more school funding means fewer schools closing and more potential for growth in the school. This money could provide funding for more teachers, building improvements, new ed tech tools, more school programs, and so forth.

The Yahoo News article shared the perspective of one Superintendent from Pennsylvania. Superintendent Murray hopes to bring in 40 international students, each paying $10,000 for their schooling. By doing this, he hopes to make up $400,000 that was lost in budget cuts.

Teacher Job Security

With more students filling the classroom seats, teachers won’t have to worry about their jobs getting cut or their school shutting down due to lack of students. Additionally, with more money coming into the school, their chances of getting let go due to budget cuts drops dramatically.

School Diversity

Recruiting foreign students to these small town schools can create new learning opportunities for existing students. They are given the opportunity to learn and interact with peers from another culture, ultimately bringing diversity to the school and surrounding community. This can have a long term affect too. Students can prepare for when they have to adjust to a bigger school community that has a more diverse culture, like universities and colleges.

Downside for Selling School Seats

False Promises

Many who are opposed to this plan have brought up the issue of false advertisement. The average public school education from these rural towns might not give these foreign students the exact ‘bang for their buck’ that their families are hoping for. Many believe these international families are getting overcharged.

Angry Tax Payers

Some of these public schools do not charge international students any tuition for attending. However, they do receive a couple thousand dollars from the state per student. Some tax payers already feel stretched and find it unfair to have to pay tax dollars to see the international students attend their public schools.

Concerns From the Community

Many community members have voiced concern about their own kids. They are worried their kids will lose their spots in honors classes, on sports teams, in clubs and in other programs. Also, the advantages of a smaller classroom size will vanish.

Whether you agree this exchange or not, the recruiting of international students to public schools is on the rise. According to the Yahoo News article, more than 1,000 public schools have completed the process that allows them to bring in international students that are willing to pay tuition.

School administrators are feeling the pressure to do anything to keep their small schools afloat, even if that means recruiting international students to sign up for a pricey public education.