Sunday, October 12, 2014

Missing Pieces

Well, here's an interesting one: School district officials in Arizona are scrambling to fill staff vacancies by looking far and near. Mostly far. Like the Philippines. The Casa Grande Union High School District’s decision to go abroad to staff classrooms, while unusual, isn’t groundbreaking. For decades, districts from New York to Los Angeles have lured Filipino teachers to the United States for significantly higher pay than they could make back home as well as the cultural experience.  
Why is this interesting to me? Partly because of the location and the times. Last time I checked, Arizona wasn't a tranquil oasis of calm in the realm of racial understanding and cultural sensitivity. To this end, I applaud the folks down in Casa Grande, or "Big House," for expanding their definition of "qualified teacher" to include those who are not necessarily white nor American. This is, after all, the state where a federal judge ruled that they could ban classes promoting "racial resentment against whites." Maybe this is because the foreigners who are coming in are not from south of the border, but across the sea. Fear of a Filipino takeover seems to be pretty far down the list of concerns registered by Casa Grandians. Fear of empty classrooms was a more pressing issue. Shannon Goodsell, Casa Grande Union’s superintendent said that he had nineteen job openings over the summer.  No one applied.  Not even a fresh-from-college teacher in need of job experience.
With all the worries about immigrants taking our jobs, why is it that there aren't applicants lining up to keep American classrooms filled with Americans? Reality check: Nobody is applying for these jobs. Furthermore, teachers who are accustomed to disciplined students back home, idealistic Filipino teachers often are not prepared for the unruly state of classrooms and disrespectful students they find in some American districts or the isolated, rustic lifestyles they find in others. Add to this the periodic predatory menace of exploitative businesses who will recruit them and then charge exorbitantly  for documentation and processing, as well as demanding a percentage of their salaries. 
Their salaries. Maybe it has something to do with that. Who would want to dedicate their lives to the education of America's youth for less than the national average salary paid for a similar position. You'd have to be crazy. Or something.

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