Puerto Rico: Tragedy in the Schools

In 1978, at the request of the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, the NEA sent a task force to Puerto Rico to conduct a first-hand inquiry into the nature of the school system, its condition and its problems, and to make suggestions as to its improvement. The task force explored the island's schools-not only visiting and observing first hand, but getting reactions from several hundred teachers.

In 1979, a report of their work was published. Its intended audience was the public in both Puerto Rico and the USA, as well as American legislators and the President. The end of the book includes three pages of ambitious recommendations. Unfortunately, today Puerto Rico continues to lag behind the USA in many educational benchmarks, suggesting the recommendations went unheeded.

Nevertheless, the images in the report are a powerful testament to what happens when schools are underfunded. A selection of them are included here. To see more, view the original in Special Collections.

Click on each picture to see a larger image.