HOBBS – The alarm rings at 3 a.m., and Ronell Mangilit is the first one up in a house shared with four fellow teachers. He prepares breakfast, writes up the day’s math lesson, and puts on a button-down shirt, a tie and crisply pressed slacks. Then it’s off to teach the children of New Mexican oil rig workers — arriving in his sixth-grade classroom by 7:20 sharp. It’s a job no American wanted, but one the 30-year-old Filipino was willing to pay thousands of dollars to get. Armed with a PhD in math education and a promise to a deceased brother, Mangilit borrowed the equivalent of a year’s salary in the Philippines — roughly $9,000.
Four recruiting agencies have sprung up in New Mexico. Each is run by a working teacher, a recently resigned PED employee, a district superintendent, or the close relative of a superintendent. Such close relationships to the school system give recruiters an edge in helping immigrant teachers navigate licensure and hiring protocol. But they also raise concerns about conflicts of interest and ethics violations. Total Teaching Solutions International (TTSI) is run by Janice Bickert, wife of Ruidoso Municipal Schools superintendent George Bickert.
Guest worker programs have long been shadowed by middlemen: the brokers, recruiters and labor contractors who serve as a bridge between workers abroad and employers in the U.S. While some charge a reasonable fee to deliver necessary services, exploitation is prevalent. Several court cases have taken down unscrupulous guest worker schemes. Among them:
In 2012, a federal jury awarded $4.5 million to Filipino teachers who paid a California placement agency up to $16,000 for $40,000-a-year teaching positions in Louisiana public schools. A jury found that the recruiter failed to properly disclose fees to 350 teachers. A 2011 settlement required the public school district in Maryland’s Prince George’s County to reimburse Filipino teachers $4 million, after a U.S. Labor Department investigation.
LAS CRUCES — The morning after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, 6-year-old Anabell woke up with a pressing question for her mother: “Does that mean we’re leaving the country?’”
“No,” Nayeli Saenz reassured her daughter. “You were born here. You are a U.S. citizen.”
But Saenz, 34, is not. She was brought illegally from Mexico as a 9-year-old girl and has lived most of her life in the shadows. Las Cruces is where she graduated high school, got married and divorced, and raised three children.
New Mexico ranks 49th in child well-being. Wonder what the state’s lawmakers are doing about it? We looked at 2,586 legislative ideas on kids and families so you don’t have to. Here’s what we learned:
Lawmakers proposed more than double the number of bills, memorials and resolutions during the Richardson administration than during the Martinez administration. The database shows lawmakers proposed 1,749 legislative initiatives under Democrat Gov. Bill Richardson and 837 initiatives under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
The big idea — a plan to close the achievement gap between low- and upper-income students — jumped off the pages of a magazine. It was 2003, and then-Rep. Mimi Stewart, an Albuquerque Democrat and former schoolteacher, read an article by the late leader of the American Federation of Teachers union, Sandra Feldman. She proposed adding five weeks to the school year for low-income kindergarten students and called it “Kindergarten-Plus.”
Stewart ran a bill to create the program in New Mexico. Her version of Feldman’s idea had many things going for it — not least that Stewart herself had already spent eight years in the House building political capital. Democrats had full control of the Roundhouse and a governor from their party.