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Photo: Claflin University & Joe Raedle / Getty
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona supports Governor Pedro Pierluisi's decision. Photo: Claflin University & Jose Raedle/ Getty

Puerto Rico to decentralize the State Education Agency and the Local Educational Agency

U.S. Dept. of Education supports the decentralization of the Puerto Rico Department of Education because “it will improve services for students and families"

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The Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) will launch the Initiative of Decentralization of Education and Autonomy of Regions (IDEAR), which will start implementing a decentralized model. 

According to a press release by the U.S. Department of Education, the decentralization will allow the PRDE to “overcome the system’s challenges to ensure that students and families are benefiting from a school system that responds directly to their needs.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona applauded Governor Pedro Pierluisi’s decision “because we know that students do better when schools are responsive to young people's needs and when they partner directly with the parents, families, and communities they serve.” He added the Department is ready to support the PRDE transition and “to reimagine Puerto Rico’s school system and transform it into one that is truly capable of putting students first.”

Since assuming office, the Biden-Harris Administration has supported students in Puerto Rico, with Secretary Cardona forming the Puerto Rico Education Sustainability (PRES) team at the U.S. Department of Education “to help Puerto Rico administer the unprecedented $3 billion in funding” for K-12 education, a total of $4.9 billion in funding to Puerto Rico, including $3 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act and $1.2 billion from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021. 

As the sixth largest school district in the nation, PRDE is currently operating as a unitary education system— serving as both the State Education Agency (SEA) and the Local Educational Agency (LEA). 

“Our goal is to enable the decentralization of our education system so that all our students, as well as their parents, and their teachers, can have the confidence that their school can respond directly to their needs and aspirations. We want the day-to-day decisions to be made at the regional level and the resources to reach our children directly in the public education system,” said Pierluisi. “Moreover, to prove that we are taking action quickly, in addition to the expanded set of school supplies and materials that every school will receive, at the beginning of next semester, each school principal will have a debit card that will allow them to make purchases directly for the supplies they need because we want our children to focus on learning and our teachers to focus on teaching from the first day of school.”

Under the new model, SEA and LEA will function as two separate entities. IDEAR is in charge of delivering a plan to the Puerto Rico Secretary of Education and Governor within 90 days, detailing decentralization steps, short and long-term. Once fully implemented, it will provide more opportunities for the students in Puerto Rico.

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