Monday, May 15, 2006

Importing tutors 

It was almost 3 a.m., Alex Del Monte recalled, and he was cramming like crazy. He gulped can after can of Red Bull to stay awake, but the George Washington University sophomore knew he would flunk his Statistics 52 exam later that day if he didn't call his tutor for help.

But so late at night? Not a problem if your tutor works 8,500 miles away and 9 1/2 hours ahead in Bangalore, India.
Importing tutors appears to be a good deal at $18/hour, but lo and behold the teacher unions are unhappy.
"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."
Given the number of international students that come here, this seems a little unseemly. After all, many universities are now offering webcasted lectures, which could be used to sell higher education into countries such as India. Alex Tabarrok finds the AFT's objection to using NCLB funds to pay after-school international tutors "unintentionally funny." But the tutor for one student is herself a teacher, and she makes twice as much as an online tutor as she does in an Indian classroom. Markets are wonderful for moving resources from lower-valued to higher-valued use, and allowing the higher-valued resources to receive part of the reward for the reallocation.