Can Puerto Rico’s Schools Be Saved?
As former education secretary Julia Keleher faces indictment, the U.S. territory struggles to keep schools open and students from fleeing
(EWA Radio: Episode 216)
In Puerto Rico, the public education system is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Maria two years ago. Now, another storm has hit, but this time it’s political. Education Secretary Julia Keleher, who pledged to reinvigorate the U.S. territory’s crumbling and low-performing schools, resigned in April. She was subsequently indicted on corruption charges and has pleaded not guilty. Reporter Mark Keierleber. of The 74 Million has covered the island’s education system for several years, including the closure of hundreds of campuses in the wake of Hurricane Maria, the exodus of Puerto Rican students to the mainland, and the scandal engulfing Keleher. Why should mainland education reporters pay closer attention to what’s happening in Puerto Rico, especially Keleher’s efforts to bring charter schools to the island? What are the familiar patterns that often follow as public school systems struggle to recover from natural disasters? And what lessons do Puerto Rico’s educational challenges hold for other school systems?