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‘It’s Dark in the Classrooms': Stories From Puerto Rico Show the Stress on Schools

By Andrew Ujifusa — February 16, 2018 1 min read
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A veteran Puerto Rican educator worries that her daughter, a fellow teacher at her school, will leave the island. A physical education teacher worries that the generator at his home will be stolen—without it, his daughter would have to do her homework in the dark. A school security guard says his building needs students who have fled to the U.S. mainland to return, in order for the school to remain open. A student is losing her best friend, who will soon move to Wisconsin with her family.

Those stories and more are what we found during our recent reporting visit to Puerto Rico at the end of last month. The U.S. territory’s 320,000 public school students are at the center of an increasingly contentious battle over how many schools will remain open in the wake of Hurricane Maria last year, what might replace any schools that the government is seeking to close, and even the attitude and culture inside some school buildings.

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