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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Eight resign from decentralization of education project

Vivian I. Neptune Rivera, dean of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law (UPR Río Piedras Campus)

By The Star Staff

Eight prominent professors and educators, including University of Puerto Rico Law School Dean Vivian I. Neptune Rivera, have resigned from the IDEAR process that seeks to decentralize the island educational system.

The significant development in the process, whose purpose in part is to strip partisan politics from the educational system, was noted in a letter published on Tuesday. Besides Neptune Rivera, the other individuals who resigned were educational policy expert and lawyer Enrique R. Colón Bacó, philanthropy and educational policy consultant Janice Petrovich Beiso, Prof. Eileen V. Segarra Alméstica, economist and Prof. José Caraballo-Cueto, Prof. Yolanda Cordero, clinical psychologist Ángeles Acosta, Citizens League member Enery López Navarrete and Cecile Blondet of Espacios Abiertos.

“As signatories, we are staunch advocates of public education as a constitutional right and a fundamental tool for human development,” the group stated. “Our support for public, non-sectarian, and free schools is unwavering. We believe in a genuine decentralization process that fosters greater citizen participation, depoliticizes the system, and establishes a merit-based evaluation system for its executives.”

The group noted that they supported the decentralization process established by IDEAR to reduce political partisan influence and to achieve greater citizen participation in educational processes.

However, the group says it has been forced to reconsider its participation and support for the project for several reasons because the principle of decentralization has been defeated by the existing philosophy of maintaining decision-making power at the central levels of the Education Department, which the group said became evident in the reluctance to consider the modification of regulations or laws as a mechanism to advance the objective to transfer of powers from the central to the regional level.

“In fact, decisions about IDEAR have been carried out within the central level of the Education Department, which, from our perspective, is conflictive given that real decentralization requires that the central level cede decision-making power to school communities,” the group said.

They also said the topic of depoliticization disappeared from the group discussions without explanation after being a constant concern in citizen consultations.

“The principle of citizen participation, once a cornerstone, has been relegated to the sidelines,” the group lamented. “The implementation tables, intended for two-way communication, have become spaces for one-way information management. The Education Department consults but does not respond to our requests for information. This was evident in the hasty launch of a pilot project, the success of which needs clear metrics for evaluation, yet its evolution and results have not been shared with us.”

“We are frustrated and concerned about seeing the possibility of achieving more participatory and less politicized governance disappear,” the group said. “It has become clear to us that our participation at this time is symbolic. We would be doing PR education a disservice if we became ‘rubber stamps’ to the extent that the process has been distorted from its initial objective.

“Therefore, given the certainty that the process that is being carried out does not comply with the basic elements of good governance, we publicly establish that we waive our participation in the IDEAR implementation processes and any association of ours with related processes.”

Meanwhile, the educators made certain demands, such as calling for the appointment of an independent commission of local experts on decentralization that is truly participatory.

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1 Comment

William Rosa
William Rosa
Apr 17

It's just simply mindboggling the manner in which the PPD/PNP operates. They don't care if today they this is black and tomorrow, no its white; contradicting themselves is part of the game they have played for the past 74 years. If they are highlighting the benefits of decentralization for the Puerto Rican public education system, emphasizing local government, customizing the curriculum according to regions and student body, and teacher's assistance; why, without a valid rationale the central concept of decentralization was thrown out the window.

When you have a team of the caliber of Dean Neptune Rivera, educational policy and lawyer Mr. Colon Baco, philanthropist and education policy consultant Petrovich Beiso and, professors Segarra Almestica, Caraballo Cueto, Cordero, to name…

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