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Los Angeles Found the Elusive Job Americans Won't Do

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Sandy Sand
Message Sandy Sand
No lie. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) found one of the jobs that President George Bush keeps telling us Americans won't do.

If you think that job is a grubby one like cleaning out horse stalls or scrubbing the bottom of Shamoo's tank; or stinky as in flickin' chickin's; or labor-intensive like laying bricks; or, back-breaking as in picking lettuce...you'd be dead wrong.

The jobs that are going wanting are teaching jobs, although I suppose if you asked the average teacher, he might say that teaching meets all those criteria.

Apparently LAUSD is short on math and science teachers, either because there aren't enough qualified teachers, or they are opting out for more lucrative jobs in the private sector.

The former outweighs the latter, which in itself is an indictment of our educational system that doesn't inspire young people to study math and science.

LAUSD's answer...import "expensive" labor from far off places, the Philippines in particular.

Although the largest school district in the country has been doing this for 20 years, this year's hiring of 115 Filipino teachers is the highest number ever. In total, foreign-born teachers comprise seven percent of the teaching force.

Not alone in this practice, the Baltimore, New York City, Atlanta, Chicago and other large school districts also recruit from overseas, said a spokeswoman from LAUSD, who doesn't see the practice ending any time soon.

Jarring headlines in local papers announcing the hiring of foreign-born teachers should have been subheaded: Now students will NEVER! learn math and science, or they'll find it doubly difficult.

Not because these teachers weren't born here, or don't understand
English because they do, or that they lack intelligence, but because they speak English with accents, some of which are impenetrable.

Experience taught me just how dangerous this type of lack of communication can be. For six years I had to decipher what Filipino nurses and aides were saying when a relative was in a convalescent hospital.

Most of the conversations consisted of 'what did you say?' and 'please
spell that word for me,' because no matter how many times it was repeated, I could not translate what they were saying into any English words I knew. Deciphering medical terms and names of drugs was particularly difficult, and the most difficult to do over the phone.

If that weren't bad enough, all the MediCare/MediCal doctors were native-born Arabs who spoke with thick accents. It was like playing a deadly kids game of "Telephone" trying to decipher the doctors' instructions to the nursing staff, let alone what he was telling family members.

It was constantly amazing that there weren't more screw-ups, lethal or otherwise, with misunderstandings between doctors and nurses, because of the language/accent barrier.

Maybe there were and are more than any of us realize; we'll never know.

If I, as and adult had that much trouble communicating with foreigners speaking heavily accented English, just imagine how hard it will be for students.

Math and science are difficult enough to teach native English-speaker to native English-speaker, and most students suffer through classes bored out of their minds and totally disinterested to begin with.

Add to the mix trying to decipher what a teacher is saying, and it's a recipe for disastrous learning experiences.
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Sandy Sand began her writing career while raising three children and doing public relations work for Women's American ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training). That led to a job as a reporter for the San Fernando Valley Chronicle, a (more...)
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