Puerto Rican teachers’ anger builds against privatization, firings and lack of pay raises
14 August 2018
Anger is mounting among teachers in Puerto Rico against privatization plans by the government, dwindling enrollment and firings. Teachers are demanding the delivery of promised raises, smaller class sizes and knowledge about where they will be assigned in the new school year.
In an effort to defuse this anger, the Puerto Rico Teachers Federation (FMPR) has announced plans for a one-day strike on August 15. The FMPR cites members’ “indignation” and “outrage” with “the government and the Department of Education” in the face of attacks on teachers and students. Teachers will convene Wednesday in San Juan at the Plaza Colon and will march from there to La Forteleza, the governor’s office.
In a press release, the FMPR stated, “The public education system, together with its fundamental components, the students and their teachers, have suffered the most brutal attack in history. Secretary of Education Julia Keleher has decreed the closure of some 450 schools in two years and has reduced the number of educators from 31,000 in 2016 to around 22,500 today.”
While the Department of Education has justified school closures on the island by pointing to a steep drop in enrollment (from 346,000 enrolled students in May 2017 to an estimated 311,000 this August), “the government is poised to push the creation of dozens of private charter schools, subsidized with public funds,” the FMPR release says.
The teachers’ grievances are manifold. There have been no pay raises in the past 10 years. Classes are overcrowded. In addition, the teachers association says, hundreds of teachers are starting the school year with no knowledge of where they will…