The San Juan Daily Star
Education Dept. bogged down by bureaucracy, secretary says
By John McPhaul
Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés responded Wednesday to federal Department of Education demands that the island Education Department speed up its processes so that resources reach students on time, acknowledging that the agency is bogged down by bureaucracy.
But in addition to the bureaucracy that has long characterized the vast department -- and which the secretary said Wednesday causes a document to arrive three times at the same desk -- processes in the General Services Administration, and in other agencies that assist with education matters, also take time.
“There are purchases that can take three or four months,” Ramos Parés said in response to questions from the press. “There are purchases that have taken more than a year. I’m not going to deny it to you. That is why I tell you, I think that everyone has understood, that the excess of levels and layers in the process has generated additional problems, beyond trying to establish transparent processes and ensuring that the process ends with a certain purity or with certain ethics.”
“So we are all seeing this process equally, in addition to the federal government through those mechanisms, the Financial Oversight and Management Board is seeing it,” he added. “I have to say that the General Services Administration has been working with us on this and I hope that this coming year those solutions that we are beginning to implement begin to yield a direct result.”
Meanwhile, Ramos Parés said that this year fewer students failed compared to the previous academic year. “There are figures, I don’t have them at hand, but I can tell you that they are lower,” he said. “We are talking about fewer students, we are talking about the fact that the summer and the extended hours have also paid off. We have seen a significant advance in the children who participated in this extended schedule and, equally true, we are going to be opening the summer focused on continuing to address that lag.”
Ramos Parés also said the changes in the curriculum will not impact, for example, teaching under the Montessori model.
“What Montessori is is a strategy. The curriculum continues to impact what Montessori is; the Montessori strategy will remain unchanged,” the secretary said. “Furthermore, we have a goal of taking these schools from the 44 we have to 100 schools. “... [W]e have recruited more personnel, and they are being given other types of resources to be able to continue training teachers and so that in effect we can reach this goal.”
“After many consultations with teachers, many consultations with parents, with experts from the Academy, objectives have been modified in that curriculum, things that maybe were in grade 10, we are going to see them in grade 11, something that was in 11, we will see them in the ninth,” Ramos Parés said. “So there is a complete review of what was going on.”