About the Film
When the United States acquired the Philippines from Spain in 1898, American teachers were sent to the newly acquired territory to establish a public school system. The arrival in August 1901 of 523 young American teachers signaled the beginning of the transformation of the Philippines into an English-speaking nation. A century later, the tides have turned.
There is a shortage of teachers in American public school systems. Consequently, a significant number of urban school districts across the country have begun hiring foreign teachers. School districts across the nation have traveled the world in search of highly qualified teachers. In this search, the Philippines has emerged as a recruitment hub American-based education system, and its English-speaking population.
There are 600 Filipino teachers currently working in Baltimore City where they make up ten percent of the teaching force. In a modern-day story of immigration and globalization, these young professionals are coming west in pursuit of economic advantages.
The Learning follows four Filipino teachers – Dorotea, Angel, Grace, and Rhea - during their freshman year in America. Across the school year's changing seasons, the film chronicles the sacrifices they make as they try to maintain a long-distance relationship with their children and families, and begin a new one with the mostly African-American students whose schooling is now entrusted to them. Their story is at once intensely personal, as each woman deals with the implications of her decision to come to the U.S., and fundamentally public, as they become part of the machinery of American education reform policy.