AFT’s Weingarten on Puerto Rico Education Bill
WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s education bill:
“We understand the frustration of teachers on the island who walked out yesterday. As they did, the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico and the AFT were fighting hard in the Senate of Puerto Rico to put the brakes on the governor’s plan to push unregulated charters and vouchers and close 300 schools—an invitation for educators to leave the island. While this bill still fails to make public education and adequately funded public schools the priority, over the course of 24 hours we fought for and regained teacher rights, including protecting retirements and acquired rights, and introduced some real review and oversight for charters that was absent in the governor and House’s legislation.
“This fight is far from over. We are disappointed the powers that be in Puerto Rico have bought the wrongheaded DeVos and Trump spin that charters and vouchers are a panacea. But thanks to the swift intervention by the president of the Senate, teachers, their students and our families have no longer lost their rights, and the secretary of education no longer has a blank check. We will continue working with lawmakers to insert additional checks and balances as the legislative process unfolds.
“Puerto Rico has been bankrupted by Wall Street vultures. The last thing the island needs is to import more of the fraud, mismanagement and corruption we’ve seen on the mainland. The right kind of education change is possible, but only if we work with key stakeholders to focus on teaching and learning, not defunding and not vouchers, to secure the island’s future.”
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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.