Latin America

Puerto Rican Educators: Stopping coronavirus privatization of online learning

This statement by the Puerto Rican Broad Front in Defense of Public Education describes how educators, parents, and students stopped a proposal to privative aspects distance learning (online) in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Millions of teachers around the world are confronting similar problems as they attempt to maintain contact with their students online in the coming weeks and months. Originally published at FMPRblog, translated and republished here by No Borders News as part of our ongoing coronavirus international coverage.

San Juan, Puerto Rico – The Broad Front in Defense of Public Education triumphed today in its petition to the Puerto Rican House and the Senate to reject controversial legislative bill 2448 (Proyecto de la Cámara), which sought to privatize distance learning. Representative Rafael “June” Rivera, proponent of the legislative measure, stated today that he will withdraw it. Next Thursday (March 26), we will attend the legislative session to ensure he keeps his word and withdraws the bill.

The Broad Front in Defense of Public Education (FADEP) sent communications to the press, raising concerns about this attack on public education, in addition to sending letters to the legislature by email, including more than 300 messages to senators from educators. We also drafted a petition online addressed to the Senate and the governor on March 22 and in less than 24 hours already had more than 2,800 signatures.

The Puerto Rican teachers are rising to the challenge of the COVID 19 pandemic. We are working from our homes, using technological resources to offer relevant, appropriate, individualized, and differentiated distance learning for our students. Nothing can adequately replace face-to-face classes, but in the face of the crisis, technology is useful to continue the teaching-learning process. It is time for the Department of Education and this administration to keep their word and provide each student, teacher, and staff in our public education system with a laptop. It is time for the Federal Communications Commission to authorize internet and telephone companies to provide free service to the entire student population, therapists, and teachers. We demand the approval of the bill that authorizes remote counseling (by phone or video) to be offered to our students so that they do not continue to fall behind during this emergency. We want answers to our demands to guarantee access to these resources for the entire student population, especially when more than 90% of our students live below the poverty level and do not have the necessary technological equipment or access to the internet or telephone. We demand that the Legislature of Puerto Rico support these demands.

FADEP is in the best position to develop concrete proposals that nourish and enrich the teaching-learning process, strengthen public education, and provide the necessary resources and equipment to all educators across our country. With this in mind, we have already sent letters to the governor, secretary of education, and legislature. We will continue proposing initiatives that strengthen our national public education system.

This statement is signed by the National Union of Educators and Education Workers (UNETE), the Federation of Teachers of Puerto Rico (FMPR), Puerto Rican Educators in Action (EPA), EDUCAMOS, and the Timon Committee of Mothers and Parents of Special Education Students.

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