Puerto Rico: Bilingual in Ten Years

May 8th, 2012
in econ_news

luis-fortuno-puerto-ricoSMALLEconintersect:  Gov. Luis Fortuno (pictured, click to enlarge) has proposed a plan to require all public schools teach all courses in English.  Schools would still offer Spanish language course (grammar and literature) as many schools in the other parts of the U.S. do.  The governor has been a backer of Puerto Rican statehood, which is a contentious subject in the commonwealth; only about half of the islanders support that move.  But, according to an AP article in the Poughkeepsie Journal, the governor claims that statehood is not the reason he is pushing the plan.   From that article:

Bilingualism opens doors and provides opportunity to our children so they can shine and become successful in a labor market that is increasingly competitive and globalized," he said.

Follow up:

The island has only 12 schools presently teaching an all-English curriculum and another 35 offer some course in English (in addition to English language course – as a second language).  Another 31 will start an all-English curriculum when schools re-open after this summer’s vacation.   The island has a total of 1,472 schools according to the AP.  Wikipedia says that there were 1,521 public schools in 2003.  Education Bug lists 1,552 schools of which there are 836 elementary schools, 204 middle schools and 175 high schools.

According to the AP, the Puerto Rico Teachers Association is opposing the plan.  All public schools are currently required to teach English language course from K through 12 and about 9,000 teachers are doing those courses.  That works out to a little more than six English teachers per school.  The distribution among the various grade levels has not been determined by Econintersect, but it is estimated that there could be on average between one and two English teachers per grade level in each school.

This change in policy will return Puerto Rico to a practice that was followed from 1898 to 1915.

Editor’s note: Gov. Fortuno is considered by some to be a potential Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012.

John Lounsbury


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