For the first time, in order to help fill hundreds of open teaching spots, Albuquerque Public Schools has hired teachers from halfway around the world — and many of them are now teaching in some of the toughest classrooms to fill.
“I chose New Mexico because I found it interesting to learn the cultures,” said Riza Rosello, one of the 33 Filipino teachers hired by APS.
Rosello has 14 years of teaching experience and is now a Special Education teacher at Van Buren Middle School.
“They’re helping to fill some very difficult positions,” said Monica Armenta, Executive Director of Communications for APS.
Armenta says, currently, APS has 140 regular education teacher openings and another 160 special education openings. Armenta says most of the Filipino teachers will be teaching special education classes.
“The hardest to fill teachers remain special education, bilingual, math, and science,” said Armenta.
Armenta says the teacher shortage is not an unexpected problem.
“We’ve been, the country has been, talking about a teacher shortage for about a decade now and this year we’re living the reality of it,” said Armenta.
Armenta said they tried to recruit teachers from New Mexico colleges and other places across the country, but the market is just too competitive.
“We certainly would prefer to promote teachers from our colleges and other places in the United States. Unfortunately, that isn’t an option this year,” said Armenta.
Armenta says, legally, the Filipino teachers are allowed to stay and teach for five years. APS can also terminate their employment based on performance and the teachers are allowed to return home if they wish.
By teaching at a school in APS, the Filipino teachers will be earning a salary much higher than they’re used to.
“A starting teacher from the Philippines here will start at $36,000. Whereas, in the Philippines, a starting teacher makes $5,000,” said Armenta.
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.
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 six Spaniards will be in classrooms.
This is, however, the first time APS has tapped the Philippines for its teacher workforce.