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BCPS fails to renew work visas of a dozen Filipino teachers

BALTIMORE - The jobs of about a dozen Filipino teachers who were recruited three years ago to fill gaping teacher shortages in Baltimore County public schools have been jeopardized after their work visas expired.

According to Cheryl Bost, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, each of the instructors is certified. However, if their visas are not renewed, they may be forced to look for work in other districts.

Bost said that for the past several years, the teachers union has attempted to work out the issue with BCPS but to no avail.

“They go over there [to countries like India and the Philippines] and recruit the teachers, give them money for their expenses, provide extra training to acclimate them to the U.S.,” she said.

“Then after three years, the school system says they can no longer sponsor them. It’s a revolving door of highly qualified teachers who have had successful evaluations.”

Bost said that each time she’s addressed the county Board of Education, officials have said it would be too costly to assist the teachers’ transition to the next level of the visa process.

“This has been going on for six years and they’re letting go of good teachers who are needed in the areas of math and science,” Bost said. “In effect, they’re adding to the teacher-retention problem.”

To help offset Maryland’s yearly shortage of between 6,000 and 8,000 teachers, recruits are routinely imported from other states and countries. The Filipino teachers, who earn an average $40,000 a year for first-time teachers, are paid significantly less back home.

BCPS spokeswoman Kara Caulder said the teachers were aware when they were hired that their visas would expire in three years.

“We have met our obligations,” Caulder said, adding the teachers would “probably” have to return to the Philippines.

She also said the loss of the teachers was not a factor in teacher retention.

Maryland State Department of Education spokesman William Reinhard told The Examiner this past summer that most shortages are in special education, science and mathematics. He said the schools particularly look for more male and minority teachers. The Examiner


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