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MD abandons teachers

us_visa.jpg Visas of dozens are not renewed
BALTIMORE, Maryland – After filling up the acute shortage of teachers in Baltimore county public schools, the working visas of about a dozen teachers recruited from the Philippines have not been renewed.
Unless they find new jobs and their visas are renewed, the fully certified Filipino teachers will become undocumented aliens and will probably be forced to return home. There are reports that Baltimore city schools also will not renew the visas of about 60 Filipino teachers.

The Baltimore County Public Schools explained that they have already fulfilled the terms of the three-year contract with the Filipino teachers. BCPS has refused to renew their working visas after the expiration of their contract because they said it was too expensive for them to assist the teachers transition to the next level of the US visa process. The renewal process is handled by US State Department.

The Teachers Association of Baltimore County (TABC) said the unnamed Filipino teachers are fully certified to teach in US schools and have successfully passed evaluations during their three-year stint. It said they might have to look for work in other school districts so their visas can be renewed or they will be forced to return home.

The same fate may be in store for the hundreds or thousands of Filipino teachers who have already been recruited from the Philippines to teach in other public schools in the United States if their visas are not renewed.

While Baltimore county schools claim there are no more shortages of teachers, Prince Georges county, also in Maryland, continues to recruit teachers from the Philippines. It is expecting more than 170 new recruits to arrive and teach in its schools this year.

Recruiters here and around the United States have been making frequent trips to the Philippines to recruit more teachers because it has become one of the most lucrative recruiting ventures for US-based firms. Each teacher pays up to $10,000 each to have papers approved and working visas obtained.

Arrowhead Inc. is one of the many recruiting organizations that help school systems recruit Filipino teachers. Robert Gaskin, the countys recruitment officer, says teachers can teach in the county for six years with temporary citizenship. After that period, teachers must seek citizenship or return to the Philippines, Gaskin said.

Cheryl Bost, president of TABC, said that for the past several years, the teachers union has attempted to work out the issue with BCPS but to no avail.

She said the teachers have had successful evaluations, but the school board has refused to cover the costs of extending their visas.

They go over there [to countries like India and the Philippines] and recruit the teachers, give them money for their expenses, provide extra training to acclimate them to the U.S.,” she said.
Bost added: Then after three years, the school system says they can no longer sponsor them. Its a revolving door of highly qualified teachers who have had successful evaluations.”

She said each time shed address the county Board of Education, officials have said it would be too costly to assist the teachers transition to the next level of the visa process.

This has been going on for six years and theyre letting go of good teachers who are needed in the areas of math and science,” Bost said. In effect, theyre adding to the teacher-retention problem.
To help offset Marylands yearly shortage of between 6,000 and 8,000 teachers, recruits are routinely imported from other states and countries. The Filipino teachers, who earn an average $40,000 a year for first-time teachers, are paid significantly less back home.

BCPS spokeswoman Kara Caulder said the teachers were aware when they were hired that their visas would expire in three years.

We have met our obligations, Caulder said, adding the teachers would probably have to return to the Philippines.

Maryland State Department of Education spokesman William Reinhard told The Examiner this past summer that most shortages are in special education, science and mathematics. He said the schools particularly look for more male and minority teachers.

Schools spokeswoman Kara Caulder said the teachers were aware when they were hired that their visas would expire in three years. The visas are negotiated by the state department.

She said the school system has met its obligations and that the county may no longer be a need to look outside the country for teachers.

We opened this school year with a surplus (of teachers) in math and science, which are tough areas to recruit in,” Calder said.

While this is going on, other states have continued with recruiting teachers from the Philippines.
In Kansas, for instance, 40 Filipino teachers arrived there recently to fill teaching vacancies in Math, Science and special education classes.

According to Superintendent Winston Brooks, they choose Filipino teachers over other nationalities because most regular teachers in the Philippines are also college professors. Many have applied for overseas jobs to earn better wages and provide well for their families in the Philippines.
This month, reports said representatives of Topeka Unified School District 501 will be traveling to the Philippines to recruit teachers who can provide instruction in areas where US schools are finding it increasingly difficult to fill for the next school year.

Springfield, Missouri-based HealthQuest Enterprises will finance the recruitment trip.
Currently, 18 teachers from the Philippines are employed in 11 other district schools in Kansas. Seven of them work as middle or high school science teachers, four as math teachers, five as special education teachers and two as elementary teachers, one of whom is certified to teach English second language learners and the other with math concentration, the report said.

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