Indentured Servitude

In Education on August 24, 2010 at 12:42 am

Teaching Tolerance, A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is reporting that two labor contracting companies and several Louisiana school officials are being sued for human trafficking, racketeering and fraud.

What happen?

350 Filipino teachers, brought into this country to teach in Louisiana Public Schools, were duped into a system of indentured servitude.

They were first asked to pay a hefty fee for the privilege of working in the United States—a privilege they thought would bring them good-paying jobs. Once the fee was paid, they were dinged into paying more fees and taking out loans that kept them beholden to the labor contractors. If they refused, they’d be sent home and lose all the money they had already invested.

“We were herded into a path, a slowly constricting path, where the moment you feel the suspicion that something is not right, you’re already way past the point of no return,” said Ingrid Cruz, one of the Filipino teachers.

I read this article over a week ago but it continues to bother me. I see so many things wrong with this. As the article stated, the issue goes beyond exploitation.

Many of these teachers were recruited to fill positions at hard-to-staff  U.S. schools. Once they arrived they were often thrown into situations where they faced stressful language and cultural barriers. Many teachers were put in these untenable situations with no training or mentoring.

The article spends it’s time discussing the teachers and the H-1B guest worker program which are interesting and insightful. What it doesn’t discuss is the effect this has on the children of California, Louisiana, New York and Maryland. Why are the youth who need to best teachers getting teachers who are grossly unprepared to teach them? How does the impact the educational system and the growing debate for better “quality” teachers? What is the incentive to have such a program? Is this more cost efficient? How much do you pay a guest teacher vs a native teacher? Finally, considering America’s repulsive history of slavery how do we apply its very same principals to foreign workers in the name of our youth?

I don’t have a whole lot of commentary on this one. I generally disturbed by this. But, the article is an interesting read. You can check it out here.


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