Hot News‎ > ‎

Letter to DOL Sec. Solis

posted Jul 23, 2011, 6:30 PM by Carlo Parapara   [ updated Jul 27, 2011, 9:32 PM ]
The letter was handed to DOL Sec. Hilda Solis by the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance - DC Chapter (APALA-DC) during the APALA 2011 Convention on July 21-24, 2011 at Oakland, CA in connection to the plight of more than 1,000 international teachers in Prince George's County Public Schools.
 
 
                                                                                                                                              July 20, 2011
 
The Honorable Hilda L. Solis
Secretary of Labor

U.S. Department of Labor

200 Constitution Ave. NW

Washington, D.C.

 
Dear Madame Secretary:

 

            We represent more than 1,000 international teachers who were recruited by the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) between 2004 and 2009. These teachers are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the local teaching workforce who brings to fruition the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001.

 

Prior to the arrival of these international teachers, PGCPS had faced tremendous challenges in complying with the NLCB mandate that highly qualified teachers are assigned in each classroom.  The hiring of these teachers exponentially improved PGCPS’s compliance rate with this mandate: PGCPS has reported to the Maryland State Department of Education that the percentage of classes taught by highly qualified teachers increased from 48.6% in the academic year 2003-04 to 65% in 2006-07.

 

Furthermore, in a PGCPS website article about Governor Martin O’Malley’s allocation of federal stimulus funds in favor of Prince George’s County schools, PGCPS touted its progress: “Investments in PGCPS and its students have paid tremendous dividends.  PGCPS students have improved on the Maryland School Assessments for five years in a row, including 2008 when scores rose in every subject tested, in every grade, and in every subgroup.  PGCPS met all mandates for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for the first time and would exit Corrective Action by meeting AYP again this spring.”  Although this improvement cannot be entirely attributed to the international teachers who comprise 10% of PGCPS’s teaching workforce, it is undeniable that their hard work and commitment has yielded a positive result. 

 

The full brunt of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) recent finding that PGCPS willfully violated the H-1B visa program regulations would fall on these international teachers and their families who had uprooted their lives from their home countries to start anew here in the U.S.  PGCPS’s debarment from participating in any employment-based immigration program would result in the abrupt end of their lawful presence in the United States.  For these teachers and their families, there is no more home to go back to for they already consider the United States as their home.  It is egregiously unfair that the full impact of the penalty imposed on an employer for violating the law is borne by its employees.
 

We understand that debarment is explicitly mandated by law.  However, we respectfully appeal that an exception be applied to PGCPS’s current international teachers, especially those who are beneficiaries of approved labor condition applications, permanent labor certification, and I-140 petitions.  Allowing PGCPS to continue processing the immigration papers of these teachers will ensure their lawful presence.

 

Alternatively, we believe that the circumstances surrounding the recruitment and employment of these international teachers by PGCPS warrant the DOL’s exercise of its authority to certify U Nonimmigrant Visa applications pursuant to DOL’s U Visa Process and Protocols and Wage and Hour Division’s Field Assistance Bulletin No. 2011-1, both of which were issued last April 28, 2011.

           

PGCPS students have made significant progress due in large measure to these highly-qualified international teachers who have provided a high-level of service to the county’s public schools. They are committed to serve and fulfill the promise that no child will be truly left behind in this country. It would be a great disservice to these students if these teachers were prevented to stay on account of PGCPS’s failure to comply with the law.

           

We trust that you will seriously consider our plea so that PGCPS’s international teachers can benefit from a fair and equitable treatment that every U.S. worker deserves.

 

Respectfully yours,

  

 

                                                                                                Carlo Parapara, Ph.D.

                                                                                                President

                                                                                                Pilipino Educators Network (PEN)

  

 

                                                                                                Millet Panga

                                                                                                PEN Task Force Bayanihan Chief
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

Tell DOL their protection of PG County Teachers gets a failing grade!

 
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
 

[APALA] DC Chapter Resolution in support of PGCPS Teachers, presented & passed at the 11th APALA Biennial Convention (Oakland, CA)

by Apala D. C. Chapter on Monday, July 25, 2011 at 3:53pm

WHEREAS, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) recruited 1,000 foreign teachers under the H1-B Visa Program, between 2004-2009, in order to comply with the requirements of the “ No Child Left Behind” law.

WHEREAS, these teachers, most of whom came from the Philippines, made extreme personal sacrifices – including selling their homes and exhausting their savings – in order to fulfill an urgent need in the Prince Georges County Public Schools to serve American students.

WHEREAS, in April 2011, the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a ruling against PGCPS for making illegal deductions to the teachers’ wages to cover for various visa processing and placement fees that should have been shouldered by the county.

 WHEREAS, the DOL Administrator imposed the following remedies against PGCPS: 1) $4 million payment in back wages to the teachers; 2) $1.7 million civil penalty payment; and 3) debarment from hiring any more foreign teachers for the next two years.

WHEREAS, PGCPS agreed to the terms set forth by the DOL Administrator, and informed the teachers that PGCPS would not be renewing their visas or assisting them in the processing of their green cards, as originally promised.

WHEREAS, this recent DOL decision will result in a series of terminations of Filipino educators and other foreign teachers, with more than 1,000 PGCPS international teachers to be deported starting this month.

WHEREAS, these teachers have made an overall positive impact on their students during their brief tenure and provided a high-level of service for the citizens of this county.

WHEREAS, terminating these teachers would be a disservice to these students who need the care and attention of these certified, highly qualified and technologically savvy educators.

WHEREAS, the teachers, through the Pilipino Educators Network, requested a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis twice in May 2011 but schedule constraints did not permit her to do so.

WHEREAS, on July 15, hundreds of PG County teachers and their supporters protested in front of the DOL and later met with DOL officials, including the Deputy Solicitor, who promised to convey the teachers’ concerns and appeals to higher officials in the department.

WHEREAS, APALA stands in solidarity with the teachers in Prince George’s County and fully supports their quest for justice.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that APALA urge the Department of Labor to reconsider making the debarment ruling against PGCPS prospective, instead of retroactive, so it will not affect the teachers who are currently in this country and provide an immediate remedy that is fair and just to these diligent and dedicated teachers.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance mount a campaign to educate its affiliates regarding the practice of hiring international teachers, and work together with the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to collect information on current loopholes in international worker recruitment through third party agencies to ensure viable options to workers when employers are at fault.

Submitted by the APALA-DC Chapter

July 21, 2011

Comments