Because it cannot find enough qualified teachers back home, the Sacramento City Unified School District has turned overses and began to fill its demanding special education posts to Filipino teachers.
District spokesman Alex Barrios said they have exhausted all options to recruit local talents.
“We’ve tried to recruit special-ed teachers here in Sacramento as well as throughout the state and nation. Unfortunately we still came up with some vacancies, so these are some very hard to fill positions in special ed,” Barrios added.
Coordinating with a recruitment agent, the district settled on the Philippines, citing its “perfect fit” for its schools, given the English language and curriculum that is similar to that of American schools, Barrios said.
However, the move earned criticism from the district’s own teacher group.
The Sacramento City Teachers Association, which represents district employees, criticized the decision to import teachers, saying the problem is “a crisis of its own making.”
“I’ve never heard of other districts going halfway across the globe to recruit teachers,” said David Fisher, teacher association president. He said Sac City district’s need to do so demonstrates its failure to offer adequate pay, benefits and working conditions.
“The district is perpetuating this crisis by underpaying and undervaluing current teachers and not improving the working conditions and the learning conditions of our students,” Fisher said, adding that the district has more than 120 open positions, and expects there will be more than 200 by the start of the school year.
According to Barrios, there are now 118 open positions, and not 200 as claimed by the association. He also noted that other US cities such as Las Vegas, NV have hired teachers from the Philippines. He, however, admitted that while the Filipino teachers recruited so far have been successful, the plan is only a short term solution, Barrios added.
To address the problem on a long term basis, the district has begun working with California State University Sacramento on a program to find interested students to become qualified special education teachers.
“We want to identify before they even graduate who might be interested in this specific career path,” Barrios said. “We want them to know there’s a job waiting for them here. We have a great district they can come and work in with great benefits.”
Barrios said it will take several years before qualified applicants begin graduating from the Sac State program.