Puerto Rico School Leaders Back Decentralization of Educational System

School leaders represented by the Educadores Puertorriqueños En Acción, Inc. of Puerto Rico, an affiliate of the American Federation of School Administrators (AFSA), support the newly released initiative by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Dr. Yanira Raíces Vega, the new secretary of the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, aimed at decentralizing the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE).

Decentralizing PRDE involves redistributing authority, decision making and resources from a long-established centralized administrative structure to more localized entities, such as individual schools or districts. This shift aims to grant greater autonomy and flexibility to schools, teachers and administrators at the local level, allowing them to tailor educational approaches to the unique needs and circumstances of their communities.

Over the preceding months, Pierluisi, in partnership with Cardona and his team, engaged in a comprehensive and thoughtful process involving PRDE, local governmental bodies and community stakeholders. This concerted effort ensures students and their families will reap the benefits of an educational framework that is attuned to their specific needs on a local scale.

“This plan is an important step in raising the bar to provide students, teachers, school leaders and families in Puerto Rico with the education system they deserve," Cardona said. "The recommendations presented set the course for a transformed system that will ensure resources get directly to school communities, and that decisions are made at the local level. Parents, teachers and students have been clear: They want their voices to be heard, their needs to be considered, and to keep politics out of the classroom. We know from similar efforts that decentralization, done well, can enable central office staff to focus on their jobs; it can help principals and teachers focus on their schools; and it can provide students with a better shot at learning."

“As educational leaders, we are enthusiastic about endorsing the decentralization of Puerto Rico’s educational system, fostering an environment where every student we serve daily, along with their parents and educators, can trust in schools that are directly responsive to the distinctive requirements and aspirations of each community,” said Dr. Luis A. Orengo, president of the Educadores Puertorriqueños En Acción, AFSA Local 105, and an AFSA general vice president. “We are committed to collaborating closely with the implementation team to ensure that the voices of school leaders, who are at the helm of educational institutions, have an important voice in shaping the trajectory of learning in Puerto Rico's future.”

“This plan marks a pivotal moment for our children and our neighborhoods,” said Domingo Madera, executive director of Educadores Puertorriqueños En Acción. “This reimagining of our educational framework will stand as a transformative point in history and will be acknowledged for its enduring influence on Puerto Rico’s economy and its future.”

“Any reforms within an educational system that have the potential to elevate student learning, foster accomplishments and concurrently empower local educators represent a positive stride in the correct direction,” said AFSA President Dr. Leonard P. Pugliese.

“We maintain a realistic perspective, acknowledging that the effects of decentralization encompass both positive opportunities and potential challenges.” Orengo noted. “Nevertheless, our dedication remains unwavering in ensuring every change is exerted to effectively realize the success of this plan for the good of our students.” Educadores Puertorriqueños En Acción, founded in 1977, represents principals, directors, supervisors and other school leaders across Puerto Rico.