School & District Management Collection

Putting Puerto Rico’s Schools Back on Track

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, it severely disrupted the U.S. territory’s public schools and the students they served. The road back has been long and difficult, as children, teachers, and parents have struggled with everything from unreliable electricity to emotional trauma. The government’s plans to remake the island’s education system has also touched off fierce debate. Education Week Assistant Editor Andrew Ujifusa and Deputy Director of Photography Swikar Patel went to Puerto Rico in October 2017 to chronicle schools early efforts to recover from Maria while also serving the immediate and critical needs of their communities. Patel and Ujifusa, joined by Video Producer Erin Irwin, returned to the island in late January and again in August to report on the progress schools had made, and to highlight the debate taking shape over the long-term fate of Puerto Rico’s schools. Correspondent Kavitha Cardoza also reported from Puerto Rico at the start of the new school year, for segments on PBS NewsHour and edweek.org.

Their reporting and related coverage is below:

Education Puerto Rican Teacher on Earthquakes: 'It's More Difficult Than Maria'
Andrew Ujifusa, January 19, 2020
2 min read
Education Puerto Rico Schools Shut Down After Earthquakes Strike Island
Andrew Ujifusa, January 8, 2020
1 min read
Education Why Julia Keleher Doesn't Want Her Fraud Trial to Be in Puerto Rico
Andrew Ujifusa, December 12, 2019
2 min read
Education Puerto Rico's Former Education Secretary Arrested on Fraud Charges
Evie Blad, July 10, 2019
3 min read
Education The Leadership of Puerto Rico's Schools Is in Turmoil
Andrew Ujifusa, April 9, 2019
4 min read
Julia Keleher’s tenure as head of Puerto Rico’s islandwide school system included overseeing its recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, as well as controversies over school closures and school choice.
Julia Keleher’s tenure as head of Puerto Rico’s islandwide school system included overseeing its recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, as well as controversies over school closures and school choice.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Education Top DeVos Deputy: Puerto Rico Will Be a 'Beacon' of School Choice
Andrew Ujifusa, October 31, 2018
3 min read
Federal Top Democrat Asks GOP for Hearing in Congress on Puerto Rico's Schools
Andrew Ujifusa, September 20, 2018
2 min read
Margie Cintrón Lopez (left) teaches her English class on the first day of school on Aug. 13, 2018, at Escuela Jesus T. Piñero.
Margie Cintrón Lopez (left) teaches her English class on the first day of school on Aug. 13, 2018, at Escuela Jesus T. Piñero.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Tjeyder Manuel Díaz Vélez, a senior at Escuela Alfonso Casta Martinez in Manaubo, works at his parents’ restaurant. He has deep ties to his community, but still aspires to move to the U.S. mainland, drawn by what he sees as greater cultural diversity and the chance to earn a better living.
Tjeyder Manuel Díaz Vélez, a senior at Escuela Alfonso Casta Martinez in Manaubo, works at his parents’ restaurant. He has deep ties to his community, but still aspires to move to the U.S. mainland, drawn by what he sees as greater cultural diversity and the chance to earn a better living.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Students arrive at Escuela Jesus T. Piñero in Cidra, Puerto Rico, on August 13, for the first day of school in the island-wide district.
Students arrive at Escuela Jesus T. Piñero in Cidra, Puerto Rico, on August 13, for the first day of school in the island-wide district.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher works at her makeshift headquarters in the convention center in San Juan last October after Hurricane Maria struck the island.
Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher works at her makeshift headquarters in the convention center in San Juan last October after Hurricane Maria struck the island.
Swikar Patel/Education Week-File
Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher works at her makeshift headquarters in the convention center in San Juan, trying to find out information about the state of the nearly 1,200 schools in the U.S. territory.
Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher works at her makeshift headquarters in the convention center in San Juan, trying to find out information about the state of the nearly 1,200 schools in the U.S. territory.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher works at her makeshift headquarters in the convention center in San Juan, trying to find out information about the state of the nearly 1,200 schools in the U.S. territory. By Oct. 10, Keleher hopes to have 100 schools reopened, although getting back to regular academic classes might remain a challenge in many schools for months.
Puerto Rico Education Secretary Julia Keleher works at her makeshift headquarters in the convention center in San Juan, trying to find out information about the state of the nearly 1,200 schools in the U.S. territory. By Oct. 10, Keleher hopes to have 100 schools reopened, although getting back to regular academic classes might remain a challenge in many schools for months.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Norberto Collazo maneuvers his horse on a highway near a washed-out bridge in Utuado, Puerto Rico.
Norberto Collazo maneuvers his horse on a highway near a washed-out bridge in Utuado, Puerto Rico.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Isabel Rodriguez Santos, right, a marketing and business administration teacher at Dr. Maria Cadilla High School in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, stands with her daughter, Valeria Ramis de Ayreflor, age 14. Rodriguez Santos hopes that her school can re-open later this month once running water is re-established.
Isabel Rodriguez Santos, right, a marketing and business administration teacher at Dr. Maria Cadilla High School in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, stands with her daughter, Valeria Ramis de Ayreflor, age 14. Rodriguez Santos hopes that her school can re-open later this month once running water is re-established.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
School Climate & Safety 'This Is My Island. My Students Need Me.'
Andrew Ujifusa, October 9, 2017
2 min read
Aida Díaz, right, president of the Puerto Rico teachers' union, stands with teacher Edmarie Díaz in her classroom at Escuela Elemental Ines M. Mendoza in Comerio, Puerto Rico
Aida Díaz, right, president of the Puerto Rico teachers' union, stands with teacher Edmarie Díaz in her classroom at Escuela Elemental Ines M. Mendoza in Comerio, Puerto Rico
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Xoimar Manning, center, reacts as chef José Andrés, right, tells her he will take care of her daughter’s future education expenses. Andrés was visiting the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of his effort to organize school cafeterias to feed those displaced by Hurricane Maria.
Xoimar Manning, center, reacts as chef José Andrés, right, tells her he will take care of her daughter’s future education expenses. Andrés was visiting the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of his effort to organize school cafeterias to feed those displaced by Hurricane Maria.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Odaric Rodriguez Ortega and his mother, Sue-Ellen Ortega, embrace at the Federico Asenjo School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Closed to students, the school serves meals and potable water to those like the Ortegas whose lives have been disrupted by Hurricane Maria.
Odaric Rodriguez Ortega and his mother, Sue-Ellen Ortega, embrace at the Federico Asenjo School in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Closed to students, the school serves meals and potable water to those like the Ortegas whose lives have been disrupted by Hurricane Maria.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Students participate in "From Reading to Hope" activities at Maria Vasquez de Umpierre School in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. School principal Jessica Hernandez and others organized the event to help students reorient themselves in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Students participate in "From Reading to Hope" activities at Maria Vasquez de Umpierre School in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. School principal Jessica Hernandez and others organized the event to help students reorient themselves in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Reading & Literacy At Puerto Rican School, Lifting Spirits With Read-Aloud Event
Andrew Ujifusa, October 10, 2017
2 min read
Gloria E. Colon, and from left, Glenda Ruiz, her mother, Rosa Rodriguez, back, and Ruiz's two sons, Josh Rivera, 6, and Abdiel Rivera, 8, are using a classroom at Judith Avivas Elementary School in Utuado, Puerto Rico, as their temporary home after Hurricane Maria destroyed their house last month.
Gloria E. Colon, and from left, Glenda Ruiz, her mother, Rosa Rodriguez, back, and Ruiz's two sons, Josh Rivera, 6, and Abdiel Rivera, 8, are using a classroom at Judith Avivas Elementary School in Utuado, Puerto Rico, as their temporary home after Hurricane Maria destroyed their house last month.
Swikar Patel/Education Week