Education Reform in Puerto Rico: Leaving Children Behind in a 21st Century American Colony

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Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth of the United States. The statutory laws of the U.S. have the same force and effect as in the United States. Puerto Ricans are citizens as far as the law and the mandates of the U.S.,but treated differently when it comes to receiving the benefits that U.S. citizens enjoy. This discrepancy is perhaps most blatant when one examines Education and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). NCLB calls for students to be able to master basic skills by mastering standardized assessments. Additionally, it requires that all be teachers be considered "highly qualified". The “one size fits all” definitions of both of the above take on a different dimension when applied to an entity in which English is not the native language. The purpose of this presentation is to explore the difficulties imposed by this legislation on “U.S. territories” in general and Puerto Rico in particular. Statistics will be provided describing how the discrepancies of accountability vs. lack of financial and logistical support result in poor educational outcomes. Further, discussion will center on unique situations posed by colonialism in the 21st century from a global perspective.

Keywords: Accountability, Colonization, Education, Education Reform, NCLB, No Child Left Behind
Stream: Disability, Health
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English & Spanish (bilingual presentation)
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Dr. Joseph Nolan

Program Director, Special Education Doctoral Program, College of Education, Walden University
London, ON, Canada

Dr. Nolan is the coordinator of Special Education Doctoral Programs at Walden University, an e-learning institution located in Minneapolis, MN. When not working in his home office (in London, Ontario, Canada) or conducting residency presentations on the road, he is the director of the non-profit Centre for Assistive Use of Software Programs in Education and the CEO of Leisure Choices, a company specializing in graphic leisure inventory software. His areas of research on Universal Design, and Assistive Technology.

Jose Cordoves

Assistant Professor, Special Education
College of Education, Inter American University of Puerto Rico - Ponce

Ponce, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

Jose Cordoves is a faculty member in the department of Special Education at Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Ponce. He is also a doctoral student at Walden University. His areas of research include Autism, Disability studies, and Educational Reform in Colonial territories.

Ref: D08P0273