Like flowers blossoming after a storm, deep and widespread social movements in Puerto Rico have emerged to confront the brutal austerity regime imposed by Wall Street and Washington, DC and enforced by the island's own political and economic elites. The summer of 2019 saw over a million Puerto Ricans take to the streets and go on strike against Governor Ricardo Rosselló and all that he represented, culminating in his resignation on August 2nd.
But leading up to the fight against Rosselló were massive waves of education organizing and protest involving educators, students and parents against back-room deals that would have gutted educator benefits and privatization plans to shutter hundreds of public schools all across the island.
Despite a virtual media blackout in the mainland U.S., grassroots groups across the country have built links of mutual solidarity and support with education justice movements in Puerto Rico. Schott grantee partner Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J) has been at the forefront of this work, most recently inviting organizers from Puerto Rico to its conference in Chicago and sending a delegation to witness and support the struggle firsthand. You can listen to an interview with Mercedes Martinez and Lourdes Antebella on J4J's podcast.
This kind of movement cross-pollination is vital to not only seeing the commonality of all our struggles, but also to building the bonds of solidarity to stand up to any challenge confronting us.
- Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director & New York City Director, Alliance for Quality Education
- Jitu Brown, National Organizer, Journey for Justice Alliance
- Jorge Díaz Ortiz, Executive & Artistic Director, Agitarte
- Mercedes Martinez, President, Federación de Maestros de Puerto Rico (Teachers Federation of Puerto Rico)
- Marianna Islam (moderator), Director of Programs and Advocacy, Schott Foundation for Public Education