María del Carmen Gutiérrez Rodríguez
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico President Aida Diaz and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following joint statement responding to Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s misguided plan for Puerto Rico public schools.
“Gov. Rosselló has it exactly the wrong way around: In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, he needs to invest in public schools to support and stabilize kids’ learning, not abandon and privatize schools. You can’t, in one breath, claim to support the things Puerto Rico kids urgently need, including strengthening technical and bilingual education, or the things teachers need, such as professional development or materials or a raise, and in the next breath say you’re closing schools, pushing vouchers and diverting cash to charter chains.
“By closing schools, rather than seeing public schools as the centers of the community that Puerto Rico needs in order for people to stay and the island to recover, rebuild and thrive, the governor is taking a step backward. This is not about ideas and innovation; we hunger for them and have many ourselves, but we need more than rhetoric. Investment in public schools, transparency, and honesty about the ideas being bandied about are imperative. We already know, for example, that wherever vouchers have been tried, they’ve benefited the few at the expense of the many. As it stands, stripped of the beautiful rhetoric about the importance of teachers and good programs, this proposal to deprive public schools of investment is tantamount to abandoning them and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”