Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley announced that shortfalls in the 2014 state budget due to a complete stagnation of Maryland's economy and high unemployment created by control of Maryland's economy by global corporations will focus on programs and services valuable to the citizens of Maryland but not affect the massive giveaway of revenue in the guise of corporate subsidy, tax breaks, or any effort to reign in billions of dollars in corporate fraud.
O'Malley as a neo-liberal calls this FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY
So, $10 million will be taken from higher education and that includes grants, financial aid, and scholarships to Maryland citizens and employment to 4 public universities essential to middle-class/working class/poor families.
Below you see how a neo-liberals systematically eliminate all public sector employment by saying it is not firing anyone but eliminating positions not filled. Maryland has had its entire oversight and accountability sectors eliminated in this way. What I want to focus on today is higher education and the outsourcing of public university jobs to such an extent that the state spends money to support an education system that does not even operate in the US or benefit the citizens of Maryland. O'Malley spent his 8 years developing the structures for overseas education and made marketing and recruiting foreign students a priority. This is where our higher education money is spent and media states that never has there been fewer citizens of Maryland unable to attend Maryland universities. It is not only high tuition----it is the elimination of financial aid, grants, and scholarships. It hurts the economy in that people are not hired to these state positions to earn the money needed for consumption of goods and this creates a stagnant economy. O'Malley does this because he works for global corporations that want all state and local revenue spent expanding their businesses overseas, promoting exports, and bringing foreign students to Maryland to graduate and be sent back overseas to work for US global corporations in other nations. This entire process leaves out the families in Maryland and their children's ability to attend the best public universities in the state. Don't worry.....O'Malley and neo-liberals spent hundreds of millions building a separate system of higher education for the citizens of Maryland that cheapen and track all into vocational training programs. This also increases the number of foreign graduates that are not citizens ready to take high level jobs thanks to Obama's executive order to allow the high-skilled green card worker quotas to rise. So, Maryland citizens are not able to access the higher education venues that lead to the best jobs. When people who are not citizens are given these jobs they have no workplace rights and are not free to report abuse or illegal activity within the corporations for which they work. In these times of systemic corporate fraud and corruption----this is critical.
So, an election year budget that protected labor positions is followed by budget cuts eliminating jobs right after the primary for Governor of Maryland. Union leaders knew this would happen-----it happens all the time. Neo-cons would be worse. Neo-liberals only pretend to be progressive labor and justice!
Remember, I have for years been explaining that the state was giving a rosy economic picture that was not real and I stated why the economy was indeed stagnant and unemployment high. Below you see Franchot being the spoiler but the Comptroller's Office is ground zero for corporate tax fraud and the wrongful designation of corporations as non-profits and therefor losses in the hundreds of millions in state tax revenue each year which would happen with a republican in office as well.
State approves O'Malley's $84 million in budget cuts Poor economy prompts spending reductions
The lackluster economy prompted Gov. Martin O'Malley to propose erasing $84 million in planned spending for next year.
Just a day after the new state budget took effect, O'Malley persuaded the Board of Public Works unanimously to approve a modest set of cuts to Maryland's $16.1 billion general fund.
About $10 million in cuts come from the state's higher-education institutions, although O'Malley aides said it would not affect tuition rates.
The cuts would not cause any layoffs but would trim 61 vacant jobs from the state's workforce of about 80,000 people, aides said. More than half of those jobs will come from higher education, including 36 vacant posts in the University of Maryland system.
Even though the official estimate of how far revenue lags behind state spending will not be ready until September, the administration chose to begin budget cuts now — before agencies started spending this year's cash. Together, the cuts represent less than half a percent of the state's general fund.
O'Malley said that the cuts "build upon a tradition, a culture of fiscal responsibility." He pointed out the belt-tightening was much smaller than cuts the state took during the recession.
Comptroller Peter A. Franchot voted for the cuts, but said that state leaders need to drop the "political spin" about the state's improving economy and "stop pretending that we made it through the thicket."
"Our citizens don't want to hear the spin anymore, and they're not falling for it," Franchot said.
A federal economic report released last week showed that the U.S. economy contracted more during the first quarter of 2014 than in any quarter during the previous five years. That followed another U.S. Department of Commerce report showing that Maryland's economy had stagnated in 2013.
The sluggish growth means state revenues have fallen lower than officials estimated earlier this year.
O'Malley defended the state's financial health by citing its AAA bond rating and comparing Maryland's relatively small budget shortfall to larger looming problems in other states on the Eastern seaboard, some of which have shortfalls in the hundreds of millions.
"We are coming through this recession faster than a lot of other states," O'Malley said. He added, "there's a lot that is going right, and of course, still, a lot of work to do. In that spirit, I agree with the comptroller that we should have an honest conversation."
In January, O'Malley proposed a $39 billion state budget that increased spending by 4.9 percent and took effect Tuesday, the final state spending plan of his eight years in office.
T. Eloise Foster, O'Malley's budget secretary, said Wednesday's cuts are designed to resolve the shortfall for the entire year. "My plan is not having to do this again," she said.
While O'Malley's staff declined to offer a list of all the $84 million in specific cuts, they said they include $56 million to various government agencies, with some asked to eliminate vacant jobs, forgo software upgrades or pare back other expenses.
In addition to the $10 million cut from higher education, another $10 million will be shaved from the state budget by spending federal cash already in state coffers. And budget experts said they expect $7 million of anticipated expenses to not materialize.
The cuts would not affect the struggling Maryland Health Benefit Exchange insurance website or a series of new economic development programs to expand cybersecurity and biotechnology sectors in Maryland.
All cuts must be approved by at least two members on the state's three-person Board of Public Works, on which O'Malley, Franchot and State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp sit.
The cuts pale in comparison to the big spending reductions the board approved during the recession. In 2010, O'Malley went to the board three times for a total of $614 million in spending cuts from the general fund. In 2009, he asked for a total of $429 million in cuts over three requests. And in 2008, O'Malley requested a single $213 million spending cut.
Below you see where all the money for higher education has gone during the neo-liberal O'Malley's terms in office-----building this network of global PhDs and it has nothing to do with the citizens of Maryland! This is what the US Senate based their immigration reform bill ------the bringing of foreign students and grads to America and then allowing them to take these US corporate positions often the best positions. We are not anti-immigrant nor do we want to exclude foreign students from our universities-----quite the opposite, this should be robust. We are against the simultaneous defunding of higher education for the bulk of Maryland citizens and it is deliberate.
WE CAN FUND HIGHER EDUCATION FOR ALL THAT WANT TO ATTEND OUR MARYLAND UNIVERSITIES BY ENDING CORPORATE SUBSIDIES AND TAX BREAKS AND FOR GOODNESS SAKE MASSIVE CORPORATE FRAUD.
All this is happening because of global corporate control of the Maryland economy. We do not need these global connections for a healthy economy------it does just the opposite----it stagnates the economy.
The Global Ph.D.
July 3, 2014 By Holly Else
for Times Higher Education
Internationalizing the doctoral training process could help to overcome negative perceptions about the employability of Ph.D. students outside academia, said participants at a recent conference.
Universities in several countries are beginning to think of new ways to cater for the rising number of overseas doctoral students, speakers at the European University Association’s annual meeting on doctoral education told delegates in Liverpool.
International doctoral students offer a “cost-effective” way for institutions to build international links. But problems surrounding complex visa rules, falling domestic student numbers and the cost of running international joint doctoral programs remain.
The number of domestic doctoral candidates at Australia’s University of Queensland started dwindling in 2008, according to the head of its graduate school, Alastair McEwan. To compensate, the university has enrolled international students, who now make up about 40 percent of the doctoral student body.
The shift is “most dramatic” in engineering, architecture and IT, where departments are “heavily reliant” on overseas students, he said. He added that the university is investing in this area because Ph.D. students “are absolutely critical” to research output and are “a very cost-effective way to promote international linkages.”
McEwan said that the benefits international doctoral candidates bring to the institution “cannot be overestimated”. Their presence offers students a “breadth of knowledge about other cultures.”
“That is an important transferable skill that should be part of a student’s employability development. Internationalization of the Ph.D., or international interactions, could help us overcome some of the negative perceptions about the employability of Ph.D. students outside academia,” he added.
But he said that having overseas students enrolled on doctoral programs was a one-dimensional method of internationalization. “The next stage is to start thinking about other ways,” he said, adding that the answer did not lie in Ph.D.s that are run jointly with overseas institutions.
“These come with a high overhead as they are very hard to manage.... I’m not convinced that this is the most efficient or effective way to manage things in the long run,” he added.
American institutions are also seeing a rise in the number of overseas doctoral candidates in science, technology and engineering subjects. The vice provost and dean of Cornell University, Barbara Knuth, said: “We should be concerned in the U.S. in terms of [what] our doctoral pool will be for economic development purposes.”
She said that the nation’s immigration policies are “complex and quite limiting.”
“Doctoral students are eager to come to the U.S. to study, but we are not very good at encouraging them to stay after their degrees,” she added.
Cornell is now working to internationalize the doctoral experience for all students. Internationalizing the Ph.D. process would help to expand a graduate’s professional networks and employability, she said.
At the institutional level, it will broaden intellectual discoveries, help academics to address complex global problems and increase the visibility and exposure of the institution globally, she said.
Jean Chambaz, president of the University of Pierre and Marie Curie in France, said that universities needed to move beyond memoranda of understanding when it comes to working together internationally.
“We need focused, balanced programs on questions of common interest that include multilateral doctoral candidates and staff circulation,” he told delegates.
Below you see why more and more staff are being cut from our public universities-----all the jobs are being outsourced to global corporations that are doing the work overseas that people right here in Maryland should be doing and these citizens of Maryland would do a better job. It is done simply to reduce labor costs as pay is lower overseas and we wouldn't want all of those pesky public sector benefits providing the citizens of Maryland a first world quality of life say neo-liberals.
Is a global corporation needed to process college applications charging fees for doing so -----money which could hire a local person with a public university to do this job? We all know massive corporate fraud is infused in all these business arrangements so universities are losing far more money by outsourcing these jobs than saving. So, fighting fraud in court is worth eliminating staff at a university who could be held accountable to do the work right?
THAT'S A NEO-LIBERAL FOR YOU---WORKING FOR
WEALTH AND PROFIT SENDING ALL PUBLIC ASSETS TO CORPORATIONS WHILE IMPOVERISHING THE CITIZENS OF AMERICA.
IT IS ABSOLUTELY ABSURD THAT AN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION IS INVOLVED IN ALL THIS INTRIGUE------JUST EDUCATE THE US CITIZENS!
Troubles at Embark
July 3, 2014 By Ry Rivard Inside Higher Education
Embark, whose software helps colleges to process online applications, has owed graduate and professional schools millions of dollars and misled university officials about why it wasn’t quickly paying up, a former executive of the company is alleging amid an ongoing legal dispute.
In June 2013, Embark owed its clients $4.7 million from student application fees it collected, according to a filing in New York state court by lawyers for Raza Khan, a former chief technology officer and board member at Embark.
Even though payments were supposed to be made in a matter of months, $1.2 million of that had been owed to colleges for more than a year, according to a spreadsheet filed last month that is said to reflect the company’s bookkeeping as of late June 2013.
Khan, who left the company around the same time, alleges company officials improperly spent money owed to colleges in order to deal with Embark’s “cash flow problems.” The money was supposed to go to colleges directly and quickly, but, according to Khan, Embark officials intentionally delayed paying back colleges and “concocted” false stories to cover up the true reason for the delays.
Embark processes admissions applications for colleges across the world, including elite graduate programs. Colleges pay Embark for its services, but Embark is obligated to pay the institutions all or most of the application fees it collects. Khan’s allegations center on Embark’s failure to give colleges their share of those student application fees.
Embark got a judge to partially seal the documents, but they were available on the court’s website for several days last month. The company’s lawyer declined repeated requests for comment on the merits of Khan’s claims.
Khan is engaged in a bitter legal fight with his former business partner and high school classmate, Vishal Garg.
In June 2013, Embark owed its clients $4.7 million, including student fees collected as far back as 2009, according to Khan’s filing.
The largest single unpaid amount is over $1 million, which Embark is said to owe to Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Sid Dinsay, a spokesman for the medical school in New York City, declined to comment.
When colleges asked for their money, the company sometimes “concocted” reasons that its payments were delayed, according to Khan’s filing.
In a September 2011 email also contained in Khan’s filing, Blake Avalone, then director of client relations, told another Embark official to use a “canned response” to hold off a college that was asking for money dating to the beginning of that year. The response Avalone approved blamed a “credit card processor” for the delay. Khan said in his filing that this was among the “false explanations” Embark gave colleges for payment delays.
Another Embark employee in the same email thread suggests that the email “be sent from ‘Accounting’ if that helps.” In an email chat included in the court filing, the same employee also said, “if we're going to lie, the vaguer the better no.”
Avalone, now Embark’s managing director, did not respond to multiple emails seeking comment. Emails and voicemails were not returned by anyone at Embark over the past two weeks.
Several universities, including the University of Michigan and at least one graduate program at Harvard University, have threatened legal action against Embark. Officials at both those institutions said they were paid by Embark after they made those threats.
At least one other university has recently complained to Embark. The University of California at Davis hired a lawyer to help it collect money it says Embark has owed since spring 2012, according to a letter released by the university. In mid-May of this year, the university’s lawyer demanded that Embark pay $38,589 by June 15. That didn’t happen.
“No money was received – only a promise from the [Embark] president to follow up,” a UC Davis spokeswoman said in an email last month.
Other universities are being paid back, if only gradually.
A spokesman for Thunderbird School of Global Management said last month Embark still owes it $71,000. The school ended its relationship with Embark last fall for other reasons, the spokesman said. Khan’s filings suggest the school was owed $215,000 at one point. Thunderbird could not confirm that figure.
As of last summer, Rutgers University’s business school was owed $261,000 for fees dating as far back as April 2011, according to Khan’s filing. Much of that has been paid, the university said last month.
“Since the beginning of 2014, Embark has paid $229,260 to the Rutgers Business School – Newark and New Brunswick,” a Rutgers spokesman said in an email. “The school continues to work with Embark to collect the remaining balance.”
It’s not clear exactly how precise the spreadsheet is in Khan’s filing: It says Georgia State University is owed $81,000 for fees it collecting in 2010 and 2011, though a Georgia State official said that Embark paid it $80,000 several years ago for work done in 2009 and no longer owes the university money. UC Davis, on the other hand, is asking for more money than the spreadsheet shows it is owed.
Khan first made allegations about Embark’s repayments to colleges in July 2013, when he sued his business partner Garg. But Khan provided more details about Embark’s business last month in a separate case in which Embark is suing him.
Garg and Khan founded MyRichUncle, an upstart student loan company that made its name lending directly to students before its parent company, MRU Holdings, went bankrupt in 2009. MyRichUncle was well-known in higher ed circles in the mid-2000s for its aggressive marketing that accused college financial aid officers of engaging in “kickbacks.”
Before the bankruptcy, MRU quietly bought Embark from the Princeton Review in 2007, vowing to invigorate a company that had seen its value and reach tumble during the six years Princeton Review owned it.
Khan’s filing suggests he and Garg were unable to do so. Now, Garg’s wife, Sarita James, is president of Embark. James did not respond to multiple emails over the past two weeks seeking comment.
Khan claims Garg and others at Embark “circulated false financials” to the company’s clients and delayed payments to them because of cash flow problems.
Sometimes, even after threatening legal action, a client would stick with Embark.
In February 2013, a graduate program within Harvard Law School asked Embark for $120,000 owed to it since November and December 2012.
“Despite the promise of wire transfers by Embark (supposedly made on Feb. 1 initially and then again on Feb. 20), and despite our request for actual confirmation of the transfers, we have not received anything, not even evidence that any of the wire transfers were actually made,” Harvard assistant dean Jeanne Tai wrote in a February 2013 email, which appeared in the court filing. Harvard is not a party to the litigation.
Reached last month by phone, Tai said everything had since been squared away.
“They have since made good on everything they owed and since that period of time, we haven’t had any trouble getting what they owed us,” she said.
The Harvard graduate program remains a client.
Khan’s filing said even though Embark knew that it owed money to colleges, Garg, the former head of the company, “did not intend to cause Embark to pay such amounts owed unless and until the schools complained.”
Officials at several other institutions said to be owed money declined to comment in detail or did not return calls seeking comment about their relationship with Embark.
After the MRU bankruptcy filing, Khan and Garg quickly started another company, Education Investment and Finance Corporation, or EIFC, which manages and services private student loans and mortgage-backed securities.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the face of these global corporations and neo-liberalism. They plan to win the White House in 2016 and are getting Hillary into all venues they had a hand in destroying. High tuition and devastating student loan debt happened because the Clintons started the corporatization of US universities with the goal of creating US global corporate universities. Bill and Hillary are the face of the 2008 economic crash that has left millions of US college grads without employment----they created these Wall Street banks by deregulating the financial industry and breaking Glass Steagall so these banks could grow to the global corporations knowing they would control the US government and economy.
PLEASE DO NOT ALLOW HILLARY AND NEO-LIBERALS TO TAKE CONTROL OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY CAMPAIGNING----RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE CANDIDATES AGAINST ALL NEO-LIBERALS IN DEMOCRATIC PRIMARIES. You can see why, here in Maryland it was critical for Anthony Brown to win-----heaven forbid the candidate wanting to dismantle all of this corporate structure win!
The Clinton's funded Anthony Brown's campaign because he will embrace this global corporate structure as O'Malley did and the marginalization of the citizens of America. The Clinton Foundation is a global corporate development institution so all that money she is making will be tax-free.
Scrutiny for Hillary Clinton Speaking Fees at Colleges
July 3, 2014
Inside Higher Ed
At least eight universities have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton to speak on their campuses, The Washington Post reported. Students at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where she is due to be paid $225,000 to speak in the fall, have protested, and that is drawing attention to the likely presidential candidate's high fees, not all of which have been previously disclosed. Some of the payments ($200,000 is believed to be standard) have gone not to Clinton personally, but the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Here in Maryland, Baltimore is ground zero for the dismantling of public education from K-college. Johns Hopkins is the driver of this policy. They have a corporation that works to recruit overseas education labor and bring them to America to work in K-12 and in universities and colleges. Why bring immigrant labor to teach in US schools when we have huge unemployment and plenty of teachers? Well, Race to the Top and all of the teacher accountability that has nothing to do with quality education but everything to do with chasing current teachers out of a hostile system----- will need people to replace the US teachers that leave out of frustration and the fact that no one will want to be exposed to these kinds of working conditions. There comes the need for foreign workers taking jobs in public schools.
Remember, the goal with K-12 is to have online classes that only need a person like an education tech in the classroom to facilitate an online presentation of material. That education tech does not need to be a real teacher-----they only need to know how to start the online lessons and administer the tests. So, neo-liberals have as a goal of completely dismantling our entire public education system and quality democratic education. Think the absolutely botched rollout of Race to the Top is an accident? This policy has been in the making since the beginning of the Bush Administration----it is a republican policy written by US corporations a decade ago----it is no accident that teachers are being subjected to the worst of conditions in this education reform rollout----neo-liberals hate labor and unions and want to get rid of public sector unions through privatization with national charter chains and global corporations specializing in education temps.
I cannot tell you how revolting it is that America is behind all of this labor abuse and it is neo-liberals controlling the people's Democratic Party leading this.
Neo-cons write the policy and neo-liberals run as Democrats to implement these policies that kill the labor that votes for them.
Monday, May 26, 2014, 1:00 pm
Trafficked Teachers: Neoliberalism’s Latest Labor Source
BY George Joseph Working In These Times
Recruiting companies in the U.S. are attracting some of Philippines' best teachers with one-year guest worker visas to teach in American public schools, saddling the teachers with hidden fees and furthering the Philippines' growing teacher shortage. (SuSanA Secretariat/ Flickr / Creative Commons)
Between 2007 and 2009, 350 Filipino teachers arrived in Louisiana, excited for the opportunity to teach math and science in public schools throughout the state. They’d been recruited through a company called Universal Placement International Inc., which professes on its website to “successfully place teachers in different schools thru out [sic] the United States.” As a lawsuit later revealed, however, their journey through the American public school system was fraught with abuse.
According to court documents, Lourdes Navarro, chief recruiter and head of Universal Placement, made applicants pay a whopping $12,550 in interview and “processing fees” before they’d even left the Philippines. But the exploitation didn’t stop there. After the teachers landed in LAX, they were required to sign contracts paying back 10 percent of their first and second years’’ salaries; those who refused were threatened with instant deportation.
“We were herded into a path, a slowly constricting path,” said Ingrid Cruz, one of the teachers, during the trial, “where the moment you feel the suspicion that something is not right, you're already way past the point of no return." Eventually, a Los Angeles jury awarded the teachers $4.5 million.
Similar horror stories have abounded across the country for years. Starting in 2001, the private contractor Omni Consortium promised 273 Filipino teachers jobs within the Houston, Texas school district—in reality, there were only 100 spots open. Once they arrived, the teachers were crammed into groups of 10 to 15 in unfinished housing properties. Omni Consortium kept all their documents, did not allow them their own transportation, and threatened them with deportation if they complained about their unemployment status or looked for another job.
And it’s not always recruiting agencies that are at fault. According to an American Federation Teachers report, in 2009, Florida Atlantic University imported 16 Indian math and science teachers for the St. Lucie County School District. Labeling the immigrant teachers as “interns,” the district only spent $18,000 for each of their yearly salaries—well below a regular teacher’s rate. But because the district paid the wages to Florida Atlantic University, rather than the teachers themselves, the university pocketed most of the money, giving the teachers a mere $5,000 each.
Researchers estimate that anywhere from 14,000 to 20,000 teachers, imported on temporary guest worker visas, teach in American public schools nationwide. Such hiring practices are often framed as cultural exchange programs, but as Timothy Noah of the New Republic points out—in this case about Maryland’s Prince George County—“When 10 percent of a school district’s teachers are foreign migrants, that isn’t cultural exchange. It’s sweatshop labor—and a depressing indicator of how low a priority public education has become.”
A manufactured problem School districts frequently justify hiring lower-paid immigrants by pointing to teacher shortages in chronically underfunded rural and urban school districts. And it’s true: In poorer areas, classrooms are often overcrowded and understaffed. But this dearth of instructors did not come out of nowhere. Rather, it is an inevitable result of the austerity measures pushed through on a federal, state, and local level after the panic of the 2007 financial crisis.
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes, between 2008 and 2011, school districts nationwide slashed 278,000 jobs. This bleeding has not stopped: According to the Center on Education Policy, almost 84 percent of school districts in the 2011-2012 school year expected budget shortfalls, and 60 percent planned to cut staff to make up deficits.
Thus, we see a familiar pattern of neoliberal “restructuring” in American school systems: Cut public institutions to the bone, leave them to fail without adequate resources, then claim the mantle of “reform” while rebuilding the institutions with an eye towards privatization.
In many cities, newly laid-off instructors are left to languish while their former employers employ underpaid replacements to fill the gaps. For example, the Baltimore City Public Schools district has imported more than 600 Filipino teachers; meanwhile, 100 certified local teachers make up the “surplus” workforce, serving as substitutes and co-teachers when they can.
The manufactured labor scarcity narrative, used to justify the importation of guest worker teachers, provides districts with the opportunity to employ less costly, at-will employees, whose precarious legal status is often exploited. Such moves to pump up the workforce with workers—not here long enough to invest themselves in organizing or bargaining struggles—also serve to weaken shop-site solidarity and unions’ ability to mobilize on a larger scale.
The recruiting contactors’ advertisements to districts are particularly instructive in this regard, noting their recruits’ inability to qualify for benefits and pension contributions. In an extensive study, education professors Sue Books and Rian de Villiers found that recruiting firms tend to appeal to districts on the basis of cost-saving, rather than classroom quality. As one Georgia contractor, Global Teachers Research and Resources, advertises, “school systems pay an administrative fee [to GTRR] that is generally less than the cost of [teacher] benefits. Collaborating with GTRR means quality teachers with savings to the school systems.” Even more egregiously, a Houston based recruiting firm called Professional and Intellectual Resources exclaims that their “bargain-priced” Filipino teachers can “make the most out of the most minimal resources.
Memorizing isn’t learning This criterion for hiring makes sense in the context of what philosopher Paulo Freire calls “the banking concept of education.” In his 1968 classic, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire critiques the pedagogical tradition of rote memorization, in which the teacher-as-narrator “leads the students to memorize … the narrated content.” Freire argues, “It turns [students] into ‘containers,’ into ‘receptacles’ to be ‘filled’ by the teacher. The more completely she fills the receptacles, the better a teacher she is.”
However, Freire’s “narrative” is no longer even in the hands of teachers, who might at least have some understanding of content relevant to students. Instead with the rise of test-based approach to education, forced through with No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core, and numerous ramped-up state tests, nameless corporate and federal employees now tie teachers and students’ success to the production of higher test scores. Thus, today’s cutting-edge education reform movement has brought this “banking concept of education” back into vogue, demanding “objective measures” and “accountability” through constant standardized testing.
The idea that new teachers should be imported from halfway around the world for yearlong stints, knowing no background about the communities they are entering and the content relevant to them, is only justified if the teacher is reduced to an instrument of standardized information transmission. And if teachers are just such instruments, why not search the global market for the cheapest, most malleable ones possible?
As Books and de Villiers point out, many recruiters’ advertisements reflect this logic: “Only two [recruiters’] websites apprise teachers of the socio-economic, racial, ethnic, and religious diversity in many U.S. schools. Only five include useful educational links, and only three provide information about school-based mentoring.” So for corporate recruiters and their district clients, finding the right match for a school is not about teacher quality or experience, but rather cost and expendability.
The phenomenon of teacher trafficking, then, doesn’t rest entirely on recruiters’ mercenary tendencies or districts’ drive to cheapen their labor. It also rests on the larger neoliberal conception of workers. In this case, teachers become moveable parts, switched out in accordance with the iron laws of supply and demand in order to more efficiently output successful test scores, whose value comes to represent students themselves.
Colonialism in the classroom The American importation of Filipino teachers, as well as educators from other countries, has consequences beyond the United States, too. According to Books and de Villiers, several recruiting agencies only seek out teachers in the Philippines because its high poverty rates and supply of quality teachers make it, as one journalist from the Baltimore Sun put it, “fertile ground for recruits.” Meanwhile, the nation has an estimated shortage of 16,000 educators and the highest student-teacher ratio in Asia at 45:1.
As one Filipino union leader told the American Federation of Teachers, “To accommodate the students, most public schools schedule two, three and sometimes even four shifts within the entire day, with 70 to 80 students packed in a room. Usually, the first class starts as early as 6:00 a.m. to accommodate the other sessions.” And as American corporate forces have exploited the Philippines for its best teachers, pushed across the world by the beck and call of the market, agents of the nonprofit world have taken it upon themselves to send American substitutes in their place.
Launched last year, Teach for the Philippines presents itself as “the solution” to this lack of quality teachers in the country—a claim similar to those of its U.S. parent organization, Teach for America, a behemoth nonprofit that each year recruits thousands of idealistic college graduates to become (and often replace) teachers in low-income communities after a five-week training camp.
The Teach for Philippines promo video begins with black and white shots of multitudes of young Filipino schoolchildren packed into crowded classrooms, bored and on the verge of tears. A cover version of a Killers song proclaims, “When there's nowhere else to run … If you can hold on, hold on” as the video shifts to the students’ inevitable fates: scenes of tattooed gang kids smoking, an isolated girl and even a desperate man behind bars. In the midst of this grotesquely Orientalizing imagery, text declares, “Our Country Needs Guidance,” “Our Country Needs Inspiration,” and finally “Our Country Needs Teachers.”
Teach for the Philippines recruits young Filipinos both domestically and internationally, with special outreach to Filipino Americans. Though still in its start-up phase, with only 53 teachers in 10 schools, the program presents a disturbing vision for the future of teaching in the context of a global workforce. While the Filipino teachers imported to America are not necessarily ideal fits, given their inability to remain as long-term contributors to a school community, at least they are for the most part trained, experienced instructors. Within the Teach for the Philippines paradigm, however, Filipino students, robbed of their best instructors, are forced to study under recruits, who may lack a strong understanding of the communities they are joining and have often have never even had any actual classroom experience.
But Teach For the Philippines is just one growing arm of Teach for America’s global empire, now spanning the world sites in 33 countries and enjoying millions in support from neoliberal power players like Visa and even the World Bank. So while austerity-mode Western nations may seek to cut costs by employing no-benefits guest workers, countries such as the Philippines will be forced by the unbending logic of the market to plead for international charity—summer camp volunteers looking to “give” two years of their lives to really make a difference.
In the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire argues, “It is to the reality that mediates men, and to the perception of that reality held by educators and people, that we must go to find the program content of education.” But for such a reality to be approached, teachers and communities must have the opportunity to grow together, to listen to each other, and to understand the reality that they seek to transform. By pushing teachers into a globalized pool of low-wage temp workers, teacher trafficking precludes this possibility.