Press Release

Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on latest news about closure of schools in Puerto Rico

For Release: 

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Contact:

Kombiz Lavasany
917-287-8961
klavasany@aft.org

Washington—“This morning, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Education Julia Keleher announced that she never conducted a comprehensive analysis of the impact of closing the 283 schools she plans to close. After seeing widespread opposition to her plan mounting, she is now quickly backtracking and says this weekend she plans to visit every one of the 283 schools on the closure list to make a quick and hurried assessment.

“We’ve long pushed Secretary Keleher to conduct a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the schools she wants to close and the consequences of closing them. We have raised these concerns over and over, but they’ve been ignored; now the secretary is suddenly pretending she is listening to parents and educators, but it’s clear she’s not serious. 

“A real analysis must be done to measure the impact these closings will have on kids and communities. The right kind of analysis requires knowing what services the school being closed provides, whether other schools in the community have the services students from the closing school will need, whether their transportation and other needs can be met, and what the stakeholders—teachers, parents and mayors—think is best for their community. 

“Secretary Keleher’s quick trip to look at 283 schools this weekend is a political stunt. To pretend that it constitutes a serious analysis is an insult to the people of Puerto Rico. It is once again playing politics with public education and the future of our children.

“Rather than halting the student enrollment process (which already has been problematic because it is online, when many people still have no reliable electricity or access to the internet) to accommodate a real impact analysis, the secretary’s plan just creates more chaos. It inflicts additional pain and anxiety on those still trying to recover from the hurricanes. We call on the Puerto Rico Legislature to put a hold on the school closures and schedule oversight hearings to shine a light on the mess the governor and Secretary Keleher have created.”

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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.