Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Disaster Capitalism Strikes Puerto Rico’s Schools - In These Times

Disaster Capitalism Strikes Puerto Rico’s Schools - In These Times

Disaster Capitalism Strikes Puerto Rico’s Schools
The government’s plan to close 179 public schools and open charters has residents alarmed.




SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO—It’s Valentine’s Day at Eleanor Roosevelt elementary, and chocolate goodies and Krispy Kreme donuts sit in the back of Axamara Pérez’s classroom. Her first-graders are eager to finish their assignment so they can start the party.
Since Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017, “to get them excited about something, you really have to do a lot,” says Pérez.
It’s almost impossible to forget realities on the island, which include hurricane recovery, a 12-year financial crisis and devastating austerity measures. The island owes bondholders $75 billion, a result of mismanagement and a century under a colonial superpower. To save money, 179 schools have been shuttered, and Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher announced in April that a quarter of the 1,100 remaining schools will close this summer.
Morale is low in the Eleanor Roosevelt community, where some students still live without electricity. Letters to parents receive no response, requests for parent-teacher meetings are ignored, homework goes unfinished and teachers feel pressure to keep the school from closing.
“Even though we are trying to get back to normal—emotionally, we are not back to normal,” Pérez says. She has worked at Eleanor Roosevelt for 19 years and is one of the dedicated staff members who have helped keep the school off the closings list. Puerto Rico’s public schools lost 8 percent of their students in the post-hurricane exodus. But Eleanor Roosevelt still has 279 students, well above the threshold of 150 that Keleher suggested could trigger a closure.
Keleher saw in Hurricane Maria what she calls “a real opportunity to press the reset button.” In a sweeping “education reform” plan unveiled by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on March 29, Puerto Rico is simultaneously opening charter schools. Critics worry the plan will replicate what happened to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina: With the charterization of that school system, thousands of AfricanAmerican teachers were fired to make way for a predominantly white and inexperienced workforce. Keleher has promised not to lay off permanent teachers, but about a sixth of Puerto Rico’s teachers are on year-to-year contracts. Others worry that their job descriptions will change or they will face long commutes over mountainous roads.
“We are not like books that you move from this school to another school because they need them in another library,” says Noralis Medina, who was transferred when her Continue reading: Disaster Capitalism Strikes Puerto Rico’s Schools - In These Times




If Dems are the party of the people, let's act like it - CNN

If Dems are the party of the people, let's act like it - CNN

If Democrats are the party of the people, let's act like it


(CNN)As leaders of two of the largest unions in the country, we represent more than three million public service workers -- including teachers, nurses and corrections officers, just to name a few. These folks belong to unions to fight for the kitchen table issues that matter to all Americans, union and non-union alike: a living wage, quality health care, public education, a secure retirement and a just and vibrant democracy in the workplace and in America. In other words, our members are part of the fight for the American Dream and a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.
Traditionally, the Democratic Party has supported these issues, and has supported them for everyone -- not just the few at the top.
As at-large members of the Democratic National Committee, we have automatic delegate status (commonly known as superdelegate status) when it comes to picking the party's presidential nominee. In other words, under the current rules, we can pledge our support to any presidential candidate at the Democratic National Convention.
It's a system that the Democratic Party developed over time to ensure that, in the event of a closely divided primary, automatic delegates could step in to make sure the candidate who received the most primary and caucus support would reach the margin of victory, and the party would always emerge from our convention with a clear nominee. It's a system that the Democratic Party developed over time to ensure that members of Congress and other Continue reading: If Dems are the party of the people, let's act like it - CNN

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