Puerto Rico’s teachers hold one-day strike
24 August 2018
Puerto Rico’s public-school children started school on August 13, many crowding into crumbling school rooms or sitting in the open air. Two days later, their teachers walked out to protest the dire state of education and the government’s plans, utilizing the pretext of Hurricane Maria, to privatize the territory’s public schools.
The one-day strike was called by Puerto Rico Teachers’ Federation (Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, FMPR). It called attention to the threat to close almost a third of the island’s schools—over 250—and Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s wide-ranging attacks on education under his “reform” law signed in March.
Despite mass anger throughout the island over the state of the schools, the FMPR refused to call more than a one-day action. For its part, the Puerto Rico Teachers Association, known by its Spanish acronym AMPR, which has long claimed to be fighting privatization, refused to participate in the strike at all. President Aida Diaz told the media in late July, “Strikes are excellent when we have the chance to win, but it can also be a danger.” On August 3, the AMPR affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.
As of the beginning of the school year, an estimated 7,000 teachers had been laid off, and adding to the chaos, of those who are returning to teach this year, more than 1,000 had not been notified where they would be assigned.
Students and teachers have voiced anger against closed schools and unrepaired buildings. Several schools whose buildings were relatively unscathed, including at least two for special needs children, were closed. One such school is the Lorencita Ramirez School in Toa Baja. Speaking to Radio Isla, one mother…