Debate over Puerto Rico education reform reaches courts
SAN JUAN – The president of the Puerto Rico Teachers Association (AMPR by its Spanish initials), Dr. Aida Díaz, said Tuesday that the AMPR and the Local-Sindical filed a legal recourse to have Act 85 of 2018, the education reform law enacted by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, declared unconstitutional.
“Today, the Association took a step forward and filed recourse to declare this law unconstitutional because it is violating Article II, Section 5 of the Constitution of Puerto Rico insofar as the law, through charter schools and educational vouchers, support private schools,” she said.
Díaz said she opposes charter schools and educational vouchers because they are “known to consume public education funds and divert them” to private companies.
“As the exclusive representative of [teachers] and in the midst of the historical moment in which we find ourselves, the Association of Teachers will always defend public schools and the constitutional patrimony that establishes…the duty of the State to maintain a public system of free education…,” she added.
Díaz said the AMPR has always distinguished itself for its respect for institutions and using all available resources to defend public teachers.
“We resorted to this forum with the clear conviction [and with the] social and moral conscience that the so-called educational reform does not represent anything else than the promulgation and institutionalization of various educational systems that clash with the principle of public education,” she said.
She added that the reform obstructs “the unquestionable right of parents in Puerto Rico that the State educates based on a single principle of access to a free, non-sectarian public education. Calling charter schools public when these will be administered, directed and controlled by private hands is clearly an illegal and unconstitutional contradiction.”
“This New Educational Model represents a great transformation and we were sure we would have opposition from certain sectors who resist these changes we so badly need,” Public Affairs Secretary Ramón Rosario said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon.
“We will defend the governor’s proposal in the relevant forums. This proposal was supported by people from other political parties and the people in the last elections, and we are going to make it a reality. At present, although the plaintiff informed it filed a lawsuit, we have not been summoned,” the official added.
Recently signed Act 85 establishes that 10% of the island’s public schools become charter schools, with vouchers offered to 3% of students.