A team of top officials from Baltimore has traveled to Manila to conduct an immigration raid. Specifically, it's a raid to hire Filipino teachers. If the interviews go well, school officials will hire every Filipino teacher in the room, 81 of them, to teach math, science and special education in the city's public schools.
Back at home, recruiter Patrick Crouse is the principal at a special needs school. When you try to recruit for special ed in America, he says, it's almost a waste of time.
In the United States, he says, "I could go out for recruitment and I might see five or 10 teachers. ... Overseas we saw hundreds."
Baltimore has recruited more than 200 teachers from the Philippines so far, and while administrators say they are pleased with the quality of these teachers, they are doing this because they have to.
There is a shortage of teachers, not just in Baltimore, but nationwide. Nevada's Clark County imports math and science teachers from Canada. Topeka, Kan., brings in teachers from India and Spain. Dallas brings in bilingual teachers from Mexico and Chile. At least 10,000 teachers are needed — from abroad — every year.
America's shortage is so well known that the Philippine colleges offer special courses in American education.
"We were trained about the No Child Left Behind Act ... and then on behavior management," says special education teacher Victoria Borja.
But not everyone believes international recruitment is the best idea.
"I think going overseas to get teachers is not the answer," says Reg Weaver, head of the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union. He calls importing teachers a Band-Aid. Low salaries and heavy workloads are driving American teachers out of the classroom, he says, and school systems should be solving that underlying problem.
"So what's happening, many people are saying, 'I'm not coming into the profession,' or once they come in they say, 'I'm not going to stay,'" says Weaver.
Asked if she wishes her school had more native-born teachers, Crouse says, "In some respect, but I live with what we have to live with."
Back in Manila, the 81 teachers offered contracts have just won the lottery: They will double or triple their salaries by coming to Baltimore. And they represent the future.
Since school districts have to have a certain number of teachers by law — the next boom in immigration is already happening in the classroom.