This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning.
“The study of the arts benefits all students – especially those living under poverty that can’t pay for art courses elsewhere.”
The teachers union issued a strong statement of support.
“Students were off school Monday,” Martinez says. “In symbolism to MLK’s holiday celebration, they protested the best way they know: performing.”
During those performances, Román, the architect of the plan to eliminate the arts, changed his tune. While at the rally, he said he supports the bill.
However, the Secretary of Education could make most of these changes, himself, without legislative action. He could return the alignment of class periods to their previous configuration tomorrow.
“We’re waiting for him to put words into action,” Martinez says.
Meanwhile, supporters hope Bill 584 will pass before this Congressional session ends in June.
Corporate education reform measures like this one limiting arts classes are a consequence of financial woes imported from the mainland. Puerto Rico is besieged by vulture capitalists encouraging damaging rewrites to the tax code while buying and selling the territory’s debt.
As a result, tax revenues to fund public goods like education are drying up while the super rich rake in profits.
Officials warn the government may be out of money to pay its bills this year. Over the next five years, it may have to close nearly 600 more schools – almost half of the remaining facilities!
Of the 135 schools closed in just the last two years, Román had originally proposed shuttering 200. The remaining 65 were only kept alive because communities occupied the buildings and refused to let the government step in.
The people of Puerto Rico aren’t letting their government defund and defraud their public schools without a fight. Monday’s musical and artistic protest was just another note in the battle hymn of the people.