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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor: Departure of 9 education committee members shouldn’t delay work on decentralization

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia said Wednesday that he hopes that the departure of nine members of the committee in charge of implementing the Initiative for the Decentralization of the Education System in Puerto Rico (IDEAR) project will not delay the work.

He also said he hoped that the outgoing committee members would continue their collaboration despite their differences.

“First of all, we are not talking about a resignation as such, because these people were and hopefully will continue to collaborate with the initiative, they are collaborators,” the governor said in response to questions from the press. “The committee that was set up to implement this initiative is made up of other officials and other people. Well, the important thing here is all the work that is being done to decentralize the [Education] department.”

The outgoing members, who include Vivian Neptune Rivera, dean of the University of Puerto Rico School of Law; Enrique Colón Bacó, an educational policy consultant and lawyer; Janice Petrovich Beiso, a consultant in philanthropy and education policy; Eileen Segarra Alméstica and Yolanda Cordero, both professors; José Caraballo-Cueto, an associate professor; Ángeles Acosta, a clinical psychologist; Enery López Navarrete of the League of Puerto Rican Cities; and Cecille Blondet of Espacios Abiertos, expressed frustration at what they describe as a process dominated by centralized decision-making and a lack of transparency and effective citizen participation. They also demanded a halt to the process and an independent review.

“Differences of opinion can always arise along the way and that may cause some people to stop collaborating,” Pierluisi said. “But the reality is that we are on the right track. The reality is that what we want is for us at the regional level to have educational entities that have access, direct access to federal funds, that have divisions of human resources, procurement, legal affairs, to meet their needs. Of course, all under the supervision of the department, which becomes what’s called a good SEA, which is a State Education Agency. …”

Education Secretary Yanira Raíces Vega, meanwhile, expressed surprise at the decision without her first meeting with the officials, but anticipated that there are many people willing to fill the spaces left.

“So I did ask Mr. Roger [Iglesias, a lawyer who is serving as the project’s grant manager], as soon as possible, to hold a meeting to listen to his concerns,” she said. “But I want to make two comments. The first is that I would also like to thank all those who since yesterday and this morning have sent me text messages saying they are present, that they need more people to work on decentralization. So what that lets me know is that there are people who want to work for decentralization. On the other hand, second comment, that’s what the working groups are for, for discussion; we’re not always going to agree and that’s what we’re looking for, that’s what I want, their voices.”

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1 Comment

William Rosa
William Rosa
Apr 18

It's extremely troubling to hear 3 government officials minimizing the importance of the people who drop out of the committee working on decentralizing the DE; these individuals deserve not only the respect of everyone in and out of the government circles, but they demonstrated their commitment with the Puerto Rican youth and represent a well-informed group in education matters.

On the other hand, we have Mr. Roger Iglesias with cero training or experience with the classroom environment, saying the folks who reject the manner in which DE is running the decentralization process, were just "volunteers." Another expert in education issues and strategies, Mr. Pierluisi, repeated almost textually Mr. Iglesias words as in corroborating his assessment of the reasons that trigger…

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