Blog: The Educated Reporter

The foreign teacher trade.

For many years toward the end of their lives, my beloved grandparents were taken care of by a very kind and able Filipino couple. Many things made me uncomfortable about the arrangement—that the couple hadn’t seen their young children in years; that they worked basically all the time; that my grandparents were difficult, to put it mildly. But what appalled me the most were that the workers were basically owned by the agency that brought them to the States.

This is why I have long been cynical about the importation of Filipino teachers, and puzzled why media coverage of the trend has focused more on the culture shock of entering classrooms of unruly teenagers than on the fact that coyotes treat the hires like indentured servants—while school system administrators look the other way. If human resources officials have not known about the abuses, as they claim, I’ll bet they have tried pretty hard not to find out.

I tried to hook up reporters in the most-affected states with an early copy of an AFT report on the subject in the hopes they would pair it with some real-life reporting. At the time, none bit. Now that Greg Toppo and Icess Fernandez’s powerful piece has been published in USA Today, education officials can’t claim ignorance anymore.


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