A few years ago the Los Angeles Unified School District was facing a teacher shortage and hired more than 600 foreign instructors to fill the jobs. The majority of the teachers came from the Philippines–district officials estimate 250-300 Filipino teachers were recruited–to fill shortages in math, science and special education.
But now the LAUSD isn’t having a teacher shortage and plans to send the teachers home. Some of them have been in Los Angeles for close to half a decade and call the city of angels home.
Many of the Filipino teachers were sent to underperforming schools in rough neighborhoods that they had to learn to love so that they could be successful. And therein lies a complex issue.
"Most of us teachers doesn’t want to go back home. We want to bring our family over so we can be together here," teacher Roda Mongen told KPCC. Mongen started teaching at Virgil Middle School in 2006.
For a lot foreign exchange teachers staying in the U.S. is also a financial concern. The high processing fees from recruitment and visa sponsoring agencies have left some of them with debts of $10,000 or more.
"When the teachers were recruited there was no guarantee that permanent residency would be part of the package," Ignagni told KPCC.
So a result teachers are being forced back home.
"It appears that the district is allowing competent, well regarded teachers to be treated as disposable based on their immigration status and that just doesn’t seem fair, United Teachers Los Angeles area chair Dan Barnhart told KPCC. He has tried, unsuccessfully, to help Mongen keep her teaching job.