Press Release

AFT Statement on Chaotic First Day of School in Puerto Rico

For Release: 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


Andrew Crook
o: 202-393-8637 | c: 607-280-6603

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the opening day of school in Puerto Rico:

“Yesterday was the first day of school for teachers and children in Puerto Rico. Most school openings are happy times when children return to school eager to learn and reconnect with their friends. But this year in Puerto Rico it’s different; the opening of school is rife with chaos and lack of planning. To add insult to injury, the Puerto Rico Department of Education is spending millions on temporary classrooms to house children after closing hundreds of schools, despite protest from parents and teachers, confirming what we’ve said for months about this closed and secretive process.

“Throughout the day, we received reports from teachers about missing chairs and desks. A school in Guayama is without power. Dozen of schools are missing teachers; as the day has progressed, we’ve gotten reports of schools without their special education teachers, English teachers, social studies teachers. A school in Trujillo Alto has no schedule ready for students. Another school is missing a dozen teachers, and three cafeteria workers are serving 1,100 kids.

“Despite these foreseeable problems, teachers have dug in and persevered, becoming the main source of stability for kids in Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Rico deserves much better from the governor and education secretary than what we’re witnessing this week. That’s why we’re supporting the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico’s launch of, a website dedicated to crowdsourcing and documentation of problems parents, teachers and students are seeing across the island because of the chaotic school closing process. It’s the only way to force the secretary of education and governor to fix problems that they’ve helped create.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.