Sunday, July 31, 2011


Teachers stood under an oppressive sun to carry press their protest against the overly heavy reliance on standardized tests instead of focusing more on school children’s educational needs.

About 8,000 teachers, parents, school officials and education activists, including Filipino mentors from Prince George’s County and their supporters, gathered at the Ellipse for the “Save Our Schools” action last Saturday.

“I don’t know where I would be today if my teachers’ job security was based on how I performed on some standardized test,” actor Matt Damon told the crowd (we missed him as we tried to get a head start to catch the teachers on their march past the White House).

Critics of this grassroots movement say the teachers are trying to preserve the status quo, to keep what they see as “bad teachers” in the classroom. But the teachers counter that is a blatant misrepresentation of their real grievance which is to give teachers due process.

About 800 Filipino teachers in PG County public schools risk losing their jobs – not because they did something wrong or failed to do their job – rather they fell victims twice over from their recruiters and the schools they served for the past 6.

They have endured risks and the difficulties of relocation to help Maryland public schools raise standards; but more importantly, educate American children when the schools could not find an American teacher to do it.

The Department of Labor “penalized” PG County public schools for deliberately hoodwinking Filipino and other international teachers. It imposed a 2-year debarment, effectively scrapping the teachers’ work permits as they expire.

About 200 Filipino teachers just lost their H-1B visas. Hundreds more will suffer the same fate in September unless the debarment is lifted and they’re allowed to renew their visas. The last teachers could lose their jobs by June next year.

Some of their supporters were aghast by comments from fellow Filipinos that the teachers just wanted to continue enjoying their life in America, while their colleagues struggle with teaching conditions back in the Philippines.

Such observations expose that even in the community, many are still ignorant of why or what the Filipino teachers are fighting for. At its very core, they fight for justice, fairness and due process.

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