Mayor Acknowledges City Failed Caribbean Teachers

(Photo by Victor Pillet, Creative Commons license)

(Photo by Victor Pillet, Creative Commons license)

Nearly 20 years have passed since hundreds of Caribbean teachers arrived in New York to alleviate a teacher shortage in city schools. For the first time, a mayor has recognized that the city let them down, reports the New York Carib News’ Tony Best. De Blasio stopped short of indicating what his office would do to rectify the situation but he pledged to address it.

“Promises to the Caribbean teachers were not kept,” the mayor acknowledged at a roundtable with ethnic journalists at City Hall on March 27. According to the mayor, reports New York Carib News, the matter came to his attention through Bertha Lewis and the Black Institute, which she heads. The organization has been after the DOE to fix the complications that have placed the Caribbean teachers in immigration limbo for almost two decades.

Lewis has routinely complained about the visas given to the Jamaicans, Barbadians, Trinidadians, Guyanese and other West Indians by U.S. immigration authorities that allowed them to enter the country and live and work.

“They were given visas that didn’t reflect the teacher’s status as professionals in the classroom,” Lewis said. “The visas were for people who were not highly trained and motivated teachers, some with master’s degree but all with at least a bachelor’s degree. They received visas normally given to people who were hourly paid employees. In addition, the children of the teachers who came with them were never given the appropriate immigration status that would allow them to succeed in the country. Through all of these challenges, the Caribbean teachers worked well in the classroom and justified their presence in City schools.”

The administration of Rudolph Giuliani brought the teachers over from the Caribbean during a teacher shortage the city faced when he became mayor. However, on top of the immigration issues, the teachers’ transition into the city was marred by problems with housing and payment of their salaries.

The late Brooklyn congressman, Major Owens, had also pushed the city to address the immigration disputes faced by the teachers. Read about his efforts in the full article at New York Carib News.

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