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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

A Filipina teacher in Arizona

Desperately short of teachers, Bullhead City, Arizona schools is importing teachers from the Philippines. They've received "outstanding" ratings and have master's degrees. But they're used to students who want to learn.

In An American education, Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow profiles the struggles of Rose Jean Obreque, who's hired to teach seventh-grade English in Arizona. (Yes, English is her second language.)

Teacher pay is very low in the Philippines and classes are very large.

Bullhead City schools received an F rating before the pandemic, writes Saslow. "Fewer than 20 percent of students were proficient in either English or math, and more than half were performing at least a few years below their grade level."

Now it's worse. "After years of remote and hybrid learning, some of the students had come back to school full time in 2021 with little sense of how to act in a classroom," he reports. "Disruptions had been constant. Suspensions had nearly doubled." Teachers quit and were hard to replace.

Obreque steps in a few weeks into the school year, teaching students who've seen a rotating cast of substitutes and fill-in teachers.

In one lesson, Obreque asks a student to read about how Ho Chi Minh was inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Why did he feel that way?

The students stared back at her.
“Why America? What is so special about America?”
“Fast cash and fast food,” one student said.
“Okay, yes. Fast food is an export. But what makes this country great?”
She waited for a moment as the students began to talk to each other, write notes, fold airplanes, bounce in their seats, stare off into space and rest their heads on their desks, until finally one girl raised her hand and stood from her seat. “Bathroom?” she asked, and Obreque nodded and turned back to the class.
“America is a beacon of freedom, is it not?” she asked. “You have education. You have independence. You can achieve anything, right?”
She looked around the room and found no raised hands, no answers, nothing at all to quiet her own rising doubt, so she attempted the question again. “Isn’t America supposed to be a model for the world?” she asked.

It's a brilliant piece of reporting. And very depressing.

417 views3 comments


Oct 06, 2022

We are reaping the whirlwind that we have sown. We chose to ignore the many who were NOT learning, as long as OUR kids did.

The fact is these students have been used by the school system. The system has collected money for warehousing and moving students along by age level, not accomplishment. If a teacher protested that a student hadn't managed even a nodding acquaintance with the content, that teacher was blamed, no matter what that student's behavior, attendance, readiness for the content, or any other factor. ALL was the teacher's fault.

We need to come up with a coordinated approach, teaching reading to the illiterate, math to the innumerate, and basic lessons in civics and history for all.…

Oct 07, 2022
Replying to

"our" kids? They weren't learning, either. Don't kid yourself. The kids at the Ivies know nothing, and that's been going on so long that the profs aren't 40 don't know anything either.

"We" can't go back to teaching the three Rs with teachers who never knew them.

Kids don't know anything positive about America because their teachers don't, which is why they fell for wokeism. But worse the teachers don't know grammar, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, rhetoric, either. They don't understand the multiplication table and can't simplify fractions. They don't know how to teach working or study skills. They themselves can't tell good work from bad. They have nothing to offer.


Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Oct 06, 2022

When illegal immigrants use America as an ATM, that's what you get. I had one "student", Gabriel (he was no angel), in my English class at Locke High School on the morning of 9/11, as we watched the Twin Towers burning on a TV with fuzzy reception, react happily, claiming that America deserved this.

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