The DOE has now ruled that Caribbean teachers are working will no longer need to obtain letters of support from the principals of their schools. The teachers had complained that principals were needed to advise the DOE to continue processing visa and green card applications for the educators, a rule that left many teachers at the whim of schools heads.
The new DOE policy, effective immediately, allows principals to rate the performance of international teachers, and has taken away the ability of the principals to recommend whether or not international teachers’ visas should be renewed. The determining factor for the renewal of visa and green card applications by the DOE will be based on the ratings assigned to the teacher at an end of the year review, based on both their performance and their history of service.
The Association of International Educators and The Black Institute have joined the battle in lobbying for the teachers to secure permanent residency once and for all. Most of the over 400 Caribbean teachers have been in the U.S. since 2001 and though promised green cards, have been forced to endure years of bureaucratic red tape after the DOE classified them as unskilled workers.
“I would like to commend Commissioner Walcott and the NYC DOE on changing their visa renewal policies,” commented Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. “I am extremely pleased that they listened to my concerns and the concerns of my constituents. Although I am proud of our public school principals for all they do for our city’s teachers and children, it doesn’t serve our international teachers to give such weighted authority over visas to our principals.”
“The AIE thanks the New York City DOE for the immediate termination of the much-dreaded ‘principal letter’, which for several years was the weapon of choice used by some vindictive, punitive administrators to separate international pedagogues from service,” said AIE Chairwoman Judith Hall. “It is a positive outcome and we celebrate this precedent even as we recognize that much remains to be accomplished to secure permanent residency for those educators recruited to teach in the city ten years ago. I want to thank The Black Institute and everyone who has worked hard to hammer out an equitable solution.”