Puerto Rico Teachers on Strike last Year Teachers in New York and Puerto Rico are protesting the so-called education summit in San Juan Arne Duncan, President Obama's education boss, who was responsible for the wholescale privatisation of schools in Chicago is to visit Puerto Rico on the 17/18th October for an 'education summit'. Puerto Rico - a colony of the United States - has been the site of protracted struggles both against attempts to privatise its education system, to hijack its teachers' union and to get comparable pay with US teachers for colleagues on the island (write Puerto Rico into the search window to read previous posts on these struggles.) Students at the university too have been engaged in a long standing struggle with the security forces as they fight the privatisation of the university. FPMR - the teachers' union of Puerto Rico - boycotts tests, fights charters and the privatisaion of education and for proper funding for schools. As a result its leaders have been deprived of their licence to teach and union members have been subjected to police brutality. Teachers in New York are calling for a picket of theEducation Department on October 17th to make common cause with their colleagues in Puerto Rico in the joint fight against privatisation and charter schools and for the universal right to free public  education. The call for soidarity action, the picket and more background to the struggle from New York is pasted below:
PICKET FOR PUERTO RICO & NEW YORK QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION  Monday, October 17  5:00 PM NYC Department of Education (Tweed - near City Hall)  52 Chambers Street (Between Centre & Broadway) (Trains #4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge) JOIN US TO DEMAND: ·      No to charter privatization.  Yes to quality public education. No to cutbacks and layoffs. ·      Down with the Duncan/Obama/Bush No Child Left Behind, the Race to the Bottom for our Children. ·      No to Fraudulent Testing & Punitive Teacher Evaluation.  Respect for Tenure, Seniority and Job Protections. ·      Stop School Closings and top-down dictates (turnaround, transformation, restart) that only erode education. ·      Reduce Class Size by providing jobs to all excessed teachers. FMPR Support Committee - New York                                       FMPRsupportny@hotmail.com
In Puerto Rico, protests have been called by the Teachers’ Union of Puerto Rico (FMPR) to denounce the education summit convened there by U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan,  from October 17 -18, 2011.  This “Education Summit” is the latest attempt to increase support for the devastating federal policies of No Child Left Behind (e.g. fraudulent punitive testing, teacher firings, school closings, privatized charters) and to counter the historic resistance to charter schools in this island-nation that has been a colony of the U.S. since 1898 (post Spanish-American War). On October 17th we will denounce the undemocratic and dictatorial federal and local policies that serve to destroy public schools here and in Puerto Rico through charter schools and the contracting-out to private companies. Through teacher strikes, school stoppages, educational and militant organizing campaigns over the past decades, the FMPR union has succeeded in blocking charters, school closings, teacher layoffs, and threats to member health, pensions and wage benefits.  Today, the anti-union, anti-worker administration of Governor Luis Fortuño has escalated policies that are aimed at dismantling public schools and further undermining the right to a free public quality education.  Virtually every day, the FMPR and its leadership with the active support of parents, students and community, shut down schools on the island in order to seek redress to these intolerable conditions.  This year it will continue its standardized testing boycott and continue to organize against the fraudulent use of student test scores to evaluate teacher performance. Because of it’s unrelenting defense of public education and its effective actions against privatization, the FMPR has been the target of  intense government repression including police brutality, the illegal denial of union dues check-off, the revocation for life of their leaders’ teaching licenses and the denial of their legal union right to leaves of absence without pay.   Despite these hardships, the FMPR remains steadfast in this struggle to defend the right to public education.  Our solidarity with the struggle for public education in Puerto Rico is essential at this critical juncture when Wall Street corporations (represented by Mr. Duncan & the Obama administration) continue to lay the groundwork to implant charter schools.  To do so, the government-corporate forces have increased their attempts to destroy the frontline of defense of the public schools, the FMPR,  and to weaken all resistance. Free public school education is a universal right that was won by working families and unions both in Puerto Rico and the U.S.  The fight to defend public schools and to stop privatization through charters is a common fight in both countries.  Therefore our efforts against this corporate profiteering agenda will only be strengthened by struggling together.  Let’s stand united. Please join us and forward to your contacts.  Angel Gonzalez, FMPR Support Committee - New York