Editorials

Tweed ignores obligation to international teachers

When the city Department of Education enticed 500 Caribbean teachers to pack up and leave their countries for exciting and challenging new professional lives as instructors in New York City schools 10 years ago, the idealistic, highly qualified and motivated recruits did not suspect that such an offer from a legitimate government agency might eventually leave them in the lurch.

 

But the fact is these educators are being abandoned by the DOE. That desertion is now fraught with potentially grave legal consequences.

The DOE has failed to deliver on its promises to them. It never provided the financial aid to them that it pledged. It has done nothing to change these teachers’ immigration status, which, still all these years later, bars their spouses and children from employment. Worse yet, they face the risk of deportation for themselves and their families if they get laid off.

It’s not that the deal turned sour. It’s that it was clearly illusory from the start.

In the decade since they joined the city school system to help remedy a shortage of certified teachers, these educators have kept their side of the bargain in letter and spirit. They have obeyed all laws and performed as exemplary instructors.

What does the DOE have to say about its treatment of these teachers? Nothing!

For as long as their J-1 and H-1B visas were valid, these teachers were allowed to work. The DOE had promised them long-term careers, not just short-term gigs.

But now that their visas are expiring and these educators are in the line of fire of immigration law, the DOE folds its bureaucratic arms in indifference.

A resolution passed at the UFT Delegate Assembly in December calls upon the DOE and elected officials to resolve all issues concerning the international teachers’ immigration status.

We urgently reiterate that call.

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