This fall, the New York City Department of Education initiated a partnership with the consulate of the Dominican Republic to address a shortage in bilingual educators in the City’s public schools. The program allows Dominican teachers to qualify for cultural exchange visas with a commitment to teach in the city.
The New York Daily News reports that “the ‘cultural exchange’ program will bring 25 Dominican teachers to city schools this year, and another 25 next year, according to the DOE.”
The number will grow to 50 teachers by the end of the year and 500 in the next five years.
But the new teachers are facing pressure from DOE staffers to stay quiet about the cost of rooms they are renting or risk being removed from the program. It seems that the powers that be don’t want the word to get out that they may be taking advantage of the foreign recruits.
Bilingual educators brought from the Dominican Republic to work for the city Department of Education were ordered by a middle school teacher to shut up about the steep cost of the rooms they were forced to rent — or be exiled from the program, they told The Post.
The Dominican recruits said Rosse Mary Savery, a teacher at MS 80 in the Bronx under Principal Emmanuel Polanco, warned them not to tell a soul about having to fork over a monthly $1,350 to $1,450 each for a single room in apartments where they share a kitchen and bathroom with colleagues.
“She told us that we cannot talk about the rent to anybody. That was the main thing that she said: ‘Don’t talk to anybody. Don’t tell anybody how much you’re paying,’” a teacher quoted Savery as saying.
Currently, 19 Dominican teachers are shacked up in the Bronx at three rooming houses run by the Association of Dominican American Supervisors and Administrators — a fraternal group of DOE principals and other employees.
According to their website, ADASA’s vision “Is to develop trailblazing leaders who create opportunities for positive change in the lives of children. The mission of ADASA is to build and sustain an association of Dominican-American supervisors, administrators and strategic partners within the field of education. Our members advocate for, and work to advance educational opportunities for all students, with a particular focus on immigrant populations. We promote excellence, equity, and growth opportunities for all students, their families and the professional community that directly impacts them.”
The Post continues:
After the teachers’ pleas for receipts of their rent payments went unanswered, they sent an email asking Calcaño, Polanco and Savery for a meeting to discuss their concerns about costs.
In response, Savery called the request “a threat” that could jeopardize their US visas and their chances of bringing families to join them in New York, a teacher recalled.
“If you don’t want to get in trouble with your family coming here, you have to write back in that email and say you wouldn’t be part of the meeting,” Savery said, according to a teacher.
Amid a widening scandal over the Dominican teacher program, the DOE removed Polanco, first vice president of ADASA, from MS 80 this month. Last week, three members of ADASA’s executive board — Polanco, Calcaño and Jay Fernandez — abruptly booted Socorro Diaz, the organization’s president.