Education advocates block distance learning privatization in Puerto Rico
Like students in many parts of the world right now, those in Puerto Rico are also out of the classroom due to a coronavirus shutdown. Teachers are using distance learning techniques, but one legislator tried to privatize the system. | Carlos Giusti / AP

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—The Broad Front in Defense of Public Education (FEDAP in Spanish) triumphed this week in its petition to the House and Senate of Puerto Rico on Bill 2448 that tried to privatize distance learning. The bill’s sponsor, Rafael “June” Rivera, issued a public statement withdrawing the proposed bill.

The Broad Front in Defense of Public Education organized a campaign against this attack on public education. More than 300 emails were sent to senators by educators, and an online petition was also drawn up and directed to the Senate and the governor on March 22 with more than 2,800 signatures.

With a sense of commitment, the teachers’ union in Puerto Rico managed to make lemonade from limes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using home technology, they are offering distance education that is pertinent, appropriate, individualized, and differentiated. Nothing substitutes or replaces a regular in-person class, but during this crisis, educators are utilizing technology to teach and make learning accessible. Rivera’s bill would have privatized the distance education process being used during this time of quarantine.

FEDAP is urging the Department of Education and the Trump administration to keep their word and provide each student, teacher, and staff member in the public education system with a laptop computer. It says the FCC should mandate internet and phone companies offer free service to the entire student population, therapists, and teachers.

The coalition demands a legislative bill that authorizes remote therapy for students so that they do not continue to risk themselves during this crisis by going to appointments. It estimates that 90% of students live in poverty and do not have the needed technology nor access to the internet or telephone.

The FEDEP says it wants concrete proposals that nourish and enrich the process of teaching and learning, fortify public education, and offer resources and equipment necessary for teaching in Puerto Rico.

Its campaign is supported by the National Union of Educators and Education Workers (UNETE), the Federation of Teachers of Puerto Rico (FMPR), and Puerto Rican Special Education Educators.


Special to People’s World
Special to People’s World

People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.