« Trump Education Dept. Hits the Start Button on Innovative Tests | Main | Sen. Orrin Hatch, Co-Author of Children's Health Insurance Program, to Retire »

Senators Push for Hearings on the State of Schools in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

puerto-rico-01-juanita-negron-reyes-food-600.jpg

Nine lawmakers on the Senate education committee are asking the panel's chairman to hold hearings on the state of schools in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

In a Dec. 21 letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the senators say such proceedings would help provide "a detailed understanding of the health and education challenges facing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as an understanding of how departments under the committee's purview have provided relief, and how they can improve relief efforts." 

The letter was signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Cassidy is a Republican, Sanders is an independent, and the others are Democrats.

Here's a portion of the letter focusing specifically on schools:

The huricanes also devastated the territories' education systems. Students in the U.S.V.I. and Puerto Rico missed weeks of school as a result of the hurricanes.Though some of Puerto Rico's 1,113 public schools have re-opened, the island's Secretary of Education estimates that up to 20% will 'have to be permanently shuttered.' Of the schools that have re-opened, some are still filled with debris and have no running water or electricity. School districts throughout the U.S. mainland—including in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts—have seen an influx of Puerto Rican students, placing additional strain on already-limited public education budgets.

In October, we reported from Puerto Rico on the serious challenges facing the U.S. territory's parents, educators, and schools. Last month, Puerto Rico Secretary of Education Julia Keleher said the vast majority of the island's schools had reopened, but that many had done so despite their poor condition, and after a decline in student enrollment. Keleher told us at the time that nine out of 10 Puerto Rican public schools had reopened. 

We reached out to a spokesperson for Alexander to see if he had any plans for such hearings, and we'll update this post if we'll hear back.

Read the full letter below:

Photo: Juanita Negrón Reyes, principal of the Bernardo Gonzalez Colon School in Utuado, Puerto Rico, works on prepping food at her school in October after Hurricane Maria. (Swikar Patel/Education Week)

Don't miss another Politics K-12 post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox.

Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments