Puerto Rico has been repeatedly battered with hurricanes and, most recently, massive earthquakes. The disasters have been worsened by the government’s lack of response to the earthquake’s devastation — especially on the island’s schools.
Monique Dols is an NYC-based socialist and early childhood educator who has been involved in global justice, antiwar, and solidarity movements. Monique is a member of the American Federation of Teachers and a supporter of the Movement of Rank and File Educators, the social justice caucus of the United Federation of Teachers. She writes and translates frequently about labor and social movements in Puerto Rico.
In the midst of brutal austerity measures carried out by an undemocratic junta in Puerto Rico, unions should play a central role in fighting back. Yet only one teachers' union, the Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, is leading that fight — while another, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, is partnering with it.
Unions should fight for both their members and the entire working class. Yet in Puerto Rico, the American Federation of Teachers affiliate is doing neither, partnering with the island’s unaccountable Fiscal Control Board to impose massive cuts to teachers’ retirement funds.
Julia Keleher, Puerto Rico's former secretary of education, exploited the island's post-hurricane crisis to close hundreds of schools and privatize the education system. Now, thanks to a massive corruption scandal, she may be going to jail.