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Posted August 8, 2018

Highly Qualified Filipino Teachers Filling APS Teacher Gap

The national teacher shortage has Albuquerque Public Schools coming up with proactive and innovative ways to recruit teachers.

Welcome New Teachers

Educators across America began sounding the alarm about an inevitable teacher shortage more than a decade ago. That fear is now our reality, so school districts like Albuquerque Public Schools has taken a global approach to recruiting teachers for some of the most difficult to fill positions such as special education, bilingual education, math and science.

 Those efforts mean 33 new Filipino teachers will be reporting to classrooms across the district in the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. Eight other New Mexico school districts are also welcoming Filipino teachers.

“We’ve tried to be as proactive and innovative as possible. We continue to work with our state universities to recruit and graduate more teachers, we’ve attended out-of-state job fairs to recruit, we’ve introduced high school programs such as Educators Rising to elevate  student awareness of the teaching profession, but nothing thus far has solved the current teacher shortfall,” said APS Personnel Analyst and Recruiter Stan Keith.

 Keith’s role is new to APS. He was hired specifically to address the growing teacher shortage. Last April, Keith, together with other APS Human Services administrators, partnered with three different education agencies that specialize in the placing foreign teachers in U.S. schools.

APS focused on the Philippines because it has the third largest population of English speakers in the world and the highest number of teacher exports anywhere. Even more appealing is the fact that many of the Filipino teachers major in special education.

 In all, 58 Filipino teachers were hired on to APS, but only 33 successfully navigated their way through the U.S. State Department process to arrive in Albuquerque in enough time to complete a background check, acquire a teaching license from the New Mexico Public Education Department and interview with schools.

 “We have 33 more teachers today than we would have if this pilot program had not launched, and we’re grateful,” said Keith. When asked why a teacher would want to leave South East Asia to teach in Albuquerque, Keith said economics is likely the most compelling factor. “The average salary of a teacher in the Philippines is close to $5,000 a year. A starting teacher in APS earns $36,000, and if that teacher decides to stay for the full five years allowed, that salary could jump to $44,000 a year. A lot of these teachers come to cities like ours to earn wages they can send back home to support their families.”

 This isn’t the first time APS has recruited outside the U.S for teachers. For years now, teachers from Spain have taught in local schools, and this year another 6 Spaniards will be in classrooms. This is, however, the first time APS has tapped the Philippines for its teacher workforce.

Keith said this isn’t a long-term solution to the growing teacher shortage, but it is a viable solution until the teaching profession regains its momentum.

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