Filipino Teachers Casualties of Immigration Fiasco

Son of a Filipino teacher in Maryland's Prince George County

Son of a Filipino teacher in Maryland's Prince George County speaks for his mother. (Photo: Bing Cardenas Branigin)

This story was originally published on TheFilAm.net, an online magazine for Filipino Americans in New York.

A labor violation by Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools has resulted in an ugly confrontation with the U.S. Department of Labor, and some 800 Filipino teachers being caught in the crossfire.

It’s a complicated story that may have begun when the PGCPS was actively recruiting foreign-born teachers. From 2004 to 2009, the county sought highly-skilled teachers to set the bar for public school education and raise the standards in High School Math; High School Science; and High School English. Of the 1,044 foreign teachers hired during the period with H-1B visas, a “vast majority” came from the Philippines, according to a report.

Everything was going well in the beginning. The teachers loved their new jobs and new homes, and they were getting a lot of coverage in the local newspapers as some kind of a cultural oddity. Their presence drew mixed reactions from the community, with some parents welcoming the diligent and friendly teachers and others openly grousing that the foreigners were taking jobs away from the locals.

It wasn’t until about 2006 when the teachers noticed that something was not right.

According to the report obtained by The FilAm, “In 2006, 2007 and 2008, there were instances where newly arrived teachers were told to report to a PGCPS school without a definite teaching position/assignment. Others were assigned to schools that were fully staffed, which resulted in some classrooms having two teachers.”

And then on April 4, 2011, the DOL issued a ruling finding the PGCPS to be in “violation of labor conditions” and possible “violations of the H-1B regulations.” Essentially, the DOL was saying that certain fees that should be responsibility of the county were passed on to the teachers “including the fees related to the H-1B visa processing.”

To read the rest of the story please go to The FilAm.

Cristina DC Pastor is the founding editor of The FilAm.

 

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