Gelmer Suganob has been teaching special education classes for four years in Prince Georges County, a suburban district near Washington, DC. The Filipino teacher started an autism program in a local middle school and received glowing job reports.Some of the comments on this story were amusing. "Teaching shortage?" people ask. How can there be a teaching shortage with some teachers losing their jobs? Note the specializations mentioned: "math, science and special education." Surely Americans aren't naive enough to think we have plenty of those to go around. Seriously, do people even know why our public education is so notoriously bad?
He’s one of thousands of foreign teachers who have been filling the ranks of US classrooms for the past few years, spurred by a shortage of American teachers and new testing requirements for math, science and special education. Like Suganob, many of these teachers come from the Philippines. They’re hired by recruiting companies in their home country and pay big fees to land lucrative jobs in the US.
But despite his stellar reviews, Suganob recently got a double dose of bad news. He received a call telling him that he had overstayed his visa, and that he no longer had a job.
Let me break this down. There are three key issues at stake here:
- A man who's done nothing wrong is now being forced to leave our country and work somewhere else because of an ineffective system of paperwork. In short, a man's right to his own labor is being violated.
- Our irrational fear of immigration, based almost entirely on issues which have absolutely nothing to do with teachers arriving from the Philippines, has created an environment in which our laws prohibit the market from working to resolve important issues, such as the education of our children (particularly disadvantaged ones). In short, immigration policy is economic policy.
- Did I mention this hurts our school system?
This is why, when we think about the issue of immigration, these are the types of cases we need to keep in mind, not some fear-mongering about drug dealers on the Mexican border.