Associated Press – Mon, May 22, 2023

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s Education Department, long considered a bureaucratic behemoth, will be decentralized to better serve students, officials said Monday.

The announcement comes amid continuing criticism that the department is inefficient, corrupt and struggling to stem an increase in dropouts.

“We want the day-to-day decisions to be made at the regional level and the resources to reach our children directly,” Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said.

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona traveled to the U.S. territory for the announcement and said he supports the change to overcome what he called the system’s challenges.

Officials are expected to outline a decentralization plan and submit it to the governor and island’s education secretary within three months. The change is expected to help deploy federal resources more quickly to where they are needed and give regions and schools more autonomy.

Puerto Rico has the sixth largest school district in a U.S. jurisdiction. The island of 3.2 million people has 850 schools, 225,000 students and 25,000 teachers.