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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Bayamón regional superintendent tapped to lead Education Dept.

Interim secretary Toledo López lacked traction needed for confirmation

Interim Education Secretary Dr. Yanira Raíces Vega

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Monday the appointment of Dr. Yanira Raíces Vega as the new interim secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Education (DE).

Raices Vega has extensive experience as an educator, adviser and pedagogical researcher, has held various positions in the DE for more than 20 years and has served as Bayamón regional superintendent.

She replaces interim Education Secretary Ángel Toledo López, whose confirmation did not have sufficient support.

Since 2009, Raíces Vega has worked at the DE in various administrative positions. The designee has worked as the regional superintendent of Bayamón since 2021. She also worked as assistant secretary of educational planning and development, and as a specialist in educational research. Likewise, she has served as the interim director of the Center for Educational Research and Innovation, and later became the assistant secretary of educational transformation, planning, and performance. In 2020, Raíces Vega directed the administrative work of the Juvenile Institutions and Correctional Schools Program. Likewise, she served as director of the Pedagogical Research Unit in the Division of Educational Planning and Development, and helped manage the 21st Century Schools project.

“Dr. Raíces is a leader within the Department of Education and has collaborated on numerous successful projects, including the modernization and construction of schools under the 21st Century Schools program and the development of platforms such as the Teacher Evaluation System and Online Enrollment, which promote digitization processes in the agency,” the governor said. “As Bayamón regional superintendent, she has stood out for her diligence in administrative processes and openness in communication with the various school communities, which I am sure will continue to demonstrate from her position as secretary. I have been emphatic that education is the pillar of the development of society and, therefore, it is a priority for my administration. For this reason, I have appointed a professional with the qualities, the skills, and the experience to lead such an important agency.”

Raíces Vega, who comes from a family of educators in the public school system, was a research teacher in various DE schools and has worked on curriculum development and implementing the participatory research model in the public system. As part of her training, she has worked on many investigations with various campuses of the University of Puerto Rico, Inter-American University, and the State University of New York at Oswego.

As Bayamón regional superintendent, meanwhile, in addition to her administrative tasks, she has created work plans to promote students’ emotional and academic development and to develop instruments and platforms for data collection. She also stands out for her work in statistical data analysis, fostering alliances with public and private agencies to benefit school communities, and developing action proposals to increase academic achievement rates.

In the private sector, Raíces Vega was a professor at Central University of Bayamón and Caribbean University, and a lecturer at Colegio Universitario del Este. As a research assistant at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), she worked on developing and collecting research data related to education on the island. Additionally, she has served private schools as an adviser and consultant on school planning and educational assessment.

Raíces Vega has a bachelor’s degree in natural sciences and a master’s degree in evaluative research from the UPR Río Piedras campus. She has a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction from Inter-American University.

Puerto Rico Teachers Association President Víctor Manuel Bonilla Sánchez expressed support on Monday for the governor’s recess appointment of Raíces Vega.

“The appointment of Dr. Yanira Raíces satisfies our demand that the selection of a leader who can take charge of the priority issues of our educational system be urgently addressed,” Bonilla Sánchez said in a written statement. “We know Dr. Raíces as a figure who knows the important processes that take place in the educational regions and in our schools.”

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