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Nearly 200 new Filipino teachers hired

This year’s recruitment of nearly 200 educators almost doubles that of 2006.

About 200 Filipino teachers will come to Prince George’s County schools over the next 12 months as school officials attempt to lessen teacher shortages.

Teacher vacancies — including special education shortages — have brought officials to the Philippines to recruit teachers over the last five years. There are more qualified teachers than jobs in the Philippines so Prince George’s personnel and school board members have coordinated with school systems and teacher associations there, arranged hundreds of interviews and brought more than 400 Filipino educators back to the county since 2002.
Twenty-eight teachers recruited during the trip are slated to start in county schools this month, while another 170 will begin teaching in the 2008-09 academic year.

The county recruited 107 Filipino teachers in 2006 and 80 in 2005. Filipino teachers are sought because accreditation requirements are very similar to American requirements, officials said.

‘‘We’re not training the teachers in the United States, so we need to start looking at places where there are more teachers,” said school board chairman Owen Johnson, who helped interview teacher candidates. ‘‘They recognize our shortages. ... They have been very aggressive in getting us to come and recruit.”

Johnson said more than 300 candidates were screened and interviewed and 200 were offered a contract to teach in Prince George’s, the second-largest school district in Maryland and the 17th-largest in the nation.

A $300,000 advertising campaign aimed at filling teacher vacancies netted about 1,000 teachers over the summer, but left 200 spots open — most of them in special education — when the school year started Aug. 20. The open classrooms were filled with substitute teachers, human resources workers said.

Maryland universities and colleges graduate about 2,500 teachers annually. Prince George’s County, which hires more than 1,000 new teachers every year, must compete with 23 other state school districts for those new teachers.

The new hires are not expected to end the teacher shortage, as the school system loses about 1,000 teachers every year, school officials said.

‘‘There is no question that the state of Maryland does not produce enough teachers to fulfill the needs of Prince George’s County,” said board member Rosalind Johnson (Dist. 1) of Laurel. ‘‘There just aren’t enough teachers.”

Arrowhead Inc., an organization that helps school systems recruit Filipino teachers, finds apartments for teachers when they arrive in Prince George’s, said Robert Gaskin, the county’s recruitment officer. The teachers can teach in the county for six years with temporary citizenship. After that period, teachers must seek citizenship or return to the Philippines, Gaskin said.

In the Philippines, some of first-grade teacher Evangeline Salvivar’s classes ranged upwards of 60 pupils. In such a large classroom, she said, it’s common for some students to get left behind in their instruction. Salvivar, now a second-year teacher at Samuel P. Massie Elementary School in Forestville, said the most noticeable difference in American public schools is that everyone is given an equal chance and equal support.

Having taught pre-school in her home county for eight years, Massie pre-K teacher Shiryl Maglangit came to the school last year so she could learn new teaching strategies and help her family financially. In the Philippines, Maglangit said the average monthly salary equated to $350 a month.

In Prince George’s, the average starting salary for a teacher with an undergraduate degree is $43,841, leaving foreign-born teachers with much more to support family members.
‘‘We are changing economies here,” Massie Principal Sharif Salim said of the money sent back to the Philippines from those posted in the United States.

Maglangit’s husband arrived in the United States this year, and she said she plans to stay here through the rest of her career.

Early next year Salim also plans to visit Puerto Rico to recruit Hispanic teachers. There are currently two Puerto Rican and eight Filipino teachers at Massie.

Salim said he likes to personally recruit teachers to make sure his classrooms are ready at the start of the year.

‘‘Every year I am losing four to six student teachers due to certification issues,” Salim said. ‘‘It’s good to have a ready pool of teachers.”


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