Foreign teachers to the rescue

U.S. educators are turning to foreign teachers, especially in high-demand specialties such as math and special education, writes RiShawn Biddle on American Spectator. Prince George’s County, Maryland schools have hired 400 teachers from the Philippines since 2004 to teach just about everything.

These teachers, having grown up in a nation with strong ties to the United States, have strong English language skills and advanced degrees. Many have spent more than a decade in classroom instruction, with classroom sizes of 40 or more students. Even better: They don’t quit. Just 11 of the Filipinos have left the district over the past four years.

The Filipino teachers are delighted at the pay but dismayed by the need to control unruly students, reports Washington Post Magazine.

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  1. Amy in Texas says:

    How interesting that this is a trend. My ISD recruits in the Philippines and they make up 4/6 teachers in our ESL department. In general, they work so hard that they make some other teachers look bad!
    There are so many now we call them the Phillipino Mafia.

  2. Robert Wright says:

    There isn’t a teacher shortage in math and science; there’s a pay shortage.

  3. Many of the teachers that I have worked with over the years that come here from places like the Philippines and India cannot handle the disrespect that students hurl at them on a daily basis. They often suffer from a culture shock because for many, teachers are highly respected and valued in their prospective countries. One teacher from India who had his doctorate in Engineering quit after two years, in large part due to the disrespect that was shown him by his students and the unwillingness of administrators to back him up.

  4. MsTeacher…this isn’t just an issue for foreign teachers, there are also lots of Americans who won’t go into teaching because they have seen so much of this sort of thing.

  5. Margo/Mom says:

    I have just been reading about education in Hong Kong. Their official government policy in recent years has tried to implement increasingly “child-centered” curriculum. This is very difficult for them, as their culture is one that is very focused on respect for elders and authority. Their teachers are caught in a tension between respecting the authority of government and their principals who expect more child-centeredness and their inclination to operate out of implicit adherence to a system that focuses on tight discipline.

    While we profess a desire for the kind of discipline that exists in Asian schools, I wonder how many would really accept an overall society that supports that kind of deference to authority. As an example, Asian teachers would not confront, or speak about, their educational leaders (ie principals) in the way that American teachers do.

    While I don’t hold with anarchy in the classroom out of some poorly understood belief in child-centeredness, I do believe that our culture emphasizes individuality in ways that require us to look at discipline differently than it is carried out in other countries with different values. We really need to find culturally consistent ways of developing self-discipline. I was disappointed to read in the Filipino article that one teacher was taught to say “shut up” to her students, instead of “please be quiet,” so that her students would “understand.”

  6. Yeah, that’s a real hand-wringer, saying “shut up” instead of “please be quiet please.” And here’s a thought. Kids that habitually disrespect teachers and run interference on student learning should be kicked out.

  7. “And here’s a thought. Kids that habitually disrespect teachers and run interference on student learning should be kicked out.” Yeah, then they’ll be “left behind,” and the school will be punished by the Bush Education Dept. The kids and their parents know that they’ve got that control over the school. They see that if they are expelled or are given the grades they truly deserve, the school is perceived to be at fault.

  8. Margo/Mom says:

    The point is BdB, unless we are willing to apply the same standard across the board, as in getting rid of teachers who habitually disrespect principals, administrators and school boards, we are just spitting into the wind.

  9. And maybe we should try to find principals, administrators and school boards that are worthy of respect. Unfortunately, too many administrators in education get there because they can’t manage a classroom.

  10. Margo/Mom says:

    joycem–that may or may not be true, but this is a very American take on things, that teachers, or others, may determine who is worthy of their respect–rather than giving respect to “the office” out of a sense of rightness of the order of things. It is difficult to have things both ways–on the one hand openly challenge the credentials or respect-worthiness of those at greater levels of responsibility–and on the other to expect children and students to give respect to teachers/adults because they are teachers/adults.

    Without advocating for one or the other, I can say that it is difficult to have both.

  11. @Robert Wright:

    You two are awesome, and both 100% right. Why can’t Ed Schools and Depts of Education around the U.S. figure this out? Or maybe they know, but don’t care…

    @Margo/Mom: You can respect authority while civilly voicing yoru disagreement with them when necessary AND keep your individuality. If most of the adults in K-12 schools don’t understand that these aren’t mutually exclusive things, then it’s no wonder the kids don’t, either.

  12. MargoMom, Americans may decide who to give respect to but in most parts of life they usually act with some minimum politeness level. Try talking to your boss, or a cop, or an airline flight attendant, the way people talk to teachers, and see what happens to you.

  13. Margo/Mom says:

    So–is telling kids to shut up considered respectful these days?

  14. Margo/Mom says:

    I’m sorry, let me rephrase that. Is telling kids to shut-up considered polite?

  15. Margo/Mom
    Just so you know, my rule in my class is to treat everybody with dignity and respect. Therefore, I don’t tell my students to shut up AND neither do my students tell each other to shut up.

  16. Margo/Mom says:

    ms_teacher–I think that this is an example of the point that I was making, although it seems to have gotten lost. As adults we need to adhere to the norms that we expect of our children (whatever they are). If we expect unquestioning rule-followers, then this is the lead we must take. The problem comes when we want from our students behavior that we reject. I personally am not big on hierarchy. This implies certain things about the way that I work with children–such as the importance of their participation in setting norms of behavior (and for the most part, when asked, they are not too bad at it–generally more punitive than I would be).

    I would say that frequently school buildings are in conflict with regard to student (and staff) expectations. The result is anarchic behavior and lots of frustration, blaming and recommendations to throw the “problem kids” out. Some of the programs/concepts that have an impact on student behavior/school climate work first to focus staff on common problems/goals/methodologies. There are in fact schools that adopt very hierarchical structures with lots of things that I would view as militaristic. But they seem to be successful when consistently implemented. This does not negate the success of other schools that succeed with much more highly democratic, student-involved decision-making models. The schools that really have problems are the ones where portions of the staff desire hierarchy for students and democracy for staff, other portions are hierarchical across the board, and another portion wants democracy across the board.