The educational system of Puerto Rico was and has always been an issue. As of the recent economic debt default, the school system and its employees were up on the chopping block for official closing so that the island can attempt to pay their $70 billion dollar debt.
The Hedge Fund owners of the debt tells PR to close the schools to avoid default.
In January of 2014, I flew to PR to take the remains of my father to its final resting place. I carried ashes of a human body who hasn’t seen the island since 1982. From my understanding, my parents migrated to the US for work. A better life. I have yet to research the economic status of the time, but I do know that my mom only had an elementary education at the time and my father may or may not have ever gone to school.
Each morning my tia would drive down the mountain to the elementary school at the foot of the mountain in Ponce; a five minute drive. On her way back up, she’d stop for fresh bread from the local bakery for breakfast of pan con mantequilla and coffee. Before she can sit to sip her fresh cup of caffeine, she’s already on the phone walking out the house to pick her son. The excuses for no class ranged from there was no teacher, no substitute teacher or no running water. I am surprised that he even finished high school with the very small number of days he actually had class.
I found out that teachers protested for better pay by not showing up to work. The island of PR could not afford to pay the current staff and yet the debt was so massive they were being forced to cut back on the educational system in place to pay back the billionaires who own that debt.
So I sat and asked how did the system get to this point in the first place? I began to research and found the below excerpt from a 1917 mandated law for female teachers. Based on the additional language, it solely speaks of the university. I am sure this verbiage may have been twisted to fit any female teacher on the island.
“CONTRACTS OF CERTAIN MARRIED WOMEN”
“(275) Any teacher who is or becomes pregnant while in active service shall present her resignation on request of the School Board concerned or in default thereof of the Commissioner of Education when, in the opinion of either, her presence in the school is detrimental to the service because of her condition. No teacher in a state of pregnancy shall be appointed, proposed or approved for a teaching position. No teacher shall engage in active service, nor shall any teacher be appointed, proposed o approved within a period of ninety days after confinement, unless the term of service for which appointment is made is not to begin until after a period of ninety days after the date of confinement.
All contracts entered into between the Department of Education and teachers for service in the public schools shall expressly bind the teachers to a strict observance of the provisions of this paragraph. Failure or refusal to present resignation upon request shall be deemed sufficient cause for administrative action against the teacher by the Department of Education and shall render any existing contract for services null and void.”
There is so much wrong with this written law. Women’s rights, reproductive rights, the right to earn a living, work place discrimination, pregnancy termed as a health condition etc. Again, it sounds alarming familiar with Trump’s administration a full 100 years later.
© 2017, Lopez. All rights reserved.