Education, National, New York

Puerto Rico Teachers Join AFT

August 10, 2017

By Tara Jessup

August 11, 2017 
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
San Juan, PR -Vowing to “fight against austerity and privatization,” Puerto Rico’s teachers union signed an agreement Aug. 3 to join the American Federation of Teachers for a three-year trial affiliation. The Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, which represents the island’s 40,000 teachers, has been working with the AFT for several years to battle cuts in education funding and to teachers’ pay and benefits imposed to reduce the commonwealth’s $70 billion in debt. “Teachers are teachers no matter where they work, and we should be treated as professionals and respected by the government and the public as a vital and necessary resource,” AMPR president Aida Diaz said. Teachers in Puerto Rico, whose median salary is $19,000 a year, haven’t gotten a raise in nine years, according to the AFT, and a 2014 law freezes their pay until 2022. With the commonwealth’s finances controlled by a federally appointed board, public colleges and universities on the island are facing a 50% funding cut, and 167 neighborhood public schools may be closed, which would displace 27,000 pupils and lay off more than 2,000 teachers. “The people of Puerto Rico didn’t cause this crisis, but they’re forced to shoulder most of the burden because of the actions of hedge funders and irresponsible government deals,” AFT president Randi Weingarten said. Read more

August 10, 2017

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