April 4, 2011
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On International Recruitment of Teachers in
Prince George’s County, Md.
United States Department of Labor investigators today announced they have found that Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools willfully violated federal labor laws. More than a thousand teachers paid thousands of dollars in illegal fees before coming to the United States, according to the Labor Department.
WASHINGTON—It is appalling that a school district illegally and unfairly exploited workers who came from other countries to teach in American schools, and it is especially troubling that this exploitation occurred just a short drive from the nation’s capital.
This isn’t the first example of this type of abuse. A 2009 AFT report called attention to abuses in international teacher recruitment, and the AFT filed state and federal complaints last year on behalf of Filipino teachers working in Louisiana. The AFT has been actively pushing for legislation to regulate the recruitment industry, and is participating in a MacArthur Foundation-funded effort to develop a code of ethics for the international recruitment of teachers. Our goal is to create a systemic fix to keep such abuses from happening again. If proactive regulations had been in place to stop the bad actors, Prince George’s County Public Schools would not be spending millions in back pay now.
We are grateful that the United States Department of Labor has investigated, and is enforcing these laws. We will continue to work with federal, state and local officials to end exploitative recruitment and to support all teachers in our public schools.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.