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The Learning

Take Action

Learn More About Immigration and Teacher Shortages

In The Learning, four Filipina women move to Baltimore in order to secure a better life for their families. Learn more about the challenges facing migrant teachers, the obstacles in their gaining permanent residency, and the state of schools and teacher shortages in your own communities.
  • Find out what your school district's policy is regarding the hiring of foreign nationals. Work with school officials as needed to ensure that all teachers, including migrant teachers, are treated fairly and equitably.

  • Help develop cultural competency programs to familiarize teachers from other countries with the culture and customs of your community and/or to familiarize students with the cultures and customs of their teachers.

  • Create or support public recognition for all of the excellent teachers in your community (not a zero-sum competition for a single "best" teacher). Consider what else your community could do to create a climate that values teachers and teaching.

  • Convene a study circle or a public forum to examine why there are teacher shortages in certain subject areas and/or why certain schools have a difficult time recruiting and retaining teachers — especially teachers certified in math, science and special education. Plan steps to address the issues raised by your research or event.

  • Study the impact of current immigration policies on migrant teachers and their families, in particular obstacles they may face in their pursuit of permanent residency in the United States, possibly causing them to join the ranks of the undocumented. Share your findings through forums such as the White House roundtables on immigration reform.

Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.

Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide

When the United States took possession of the Philippines in 1898, American teachers set up schools modeled on the American public school system. Now, in a striking turnabout, American schools are recruiting Filipino teachers. The Learning is the story of four Filipina women, each facing her first year in the Baltimore public schools, where learning is a two-way street marked with disappointment and inspiring breakthroughs. As an outreach tool, the film uses the touching lens of personal profiles to offer opportunities to examine educational issues facing urban schools, the ways that cultural differences affect classroom dynamics and the challenges faced by foreign workers in the United States who leave their families behind in order to improve their economic status.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will watch a series of video clips that put a human face on both the process of economic decision-making and the reality for millions of people working abroad in order to transfer some of their income (remittances) to loved ones back in their home countries. Students will then research answers to questions about the impact of remittances around the world.

Reading List

Delve Deeper

This resource list, compiled by Susan Conlon and Martha Perry Liu of the Princeton Public Library, includes books, films and other materials related to the issues presented in the film The Learning. Learn more about immigration, education and Filipino culture.

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While I was born and raised in the Philippines, I’ve lived my entire adult life in the United States. I’m both an insider and an outsider, which allows me to have a distinct point of view.”

— Ramona Diaz, Filmmaker

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