As I scrolled through my facebook the other day, I came across a post from a high school acquaintance. She’s a designer for the NYT Magazine and she was sharing their post on The Disappearing Schools of Puerto Rico. She said she had pitched the idea for this story in February and was finally able to see it happen.I’ll get to discussing the content of the story in a minute, but I like thinking about how having her in that position, working at that company, gave insight into a story that journalists could pursue. This is exactly what I was talking about the other day when I said we need more Latinx journalists in media organizations.
The NYT magazine story focusing on shut down schools sheds a light into the pervasive education problem in Puerto Rico, but it falls a little flat for me. Focusing on the buildings and showing their decay is an interesting angle to follow, but is it the most effective to get the point across? Education affects children and communities, but we barely hear from these sources in this story.
The education crisis in Puerto Rico is very complicated and hard to explain. Mark Keierleber, a journalist from The 74 — a non-profit news site covering education in America — talked about his experience reporting on Puerto Rico for their podcast. He does a good job explaining the main points behind the crisis in his talk.
The thing about education coverage, especially in Puerto Rico, is that there is rarely any follow through or deep investigation into the issue itself. For example, when the former Puerto Rico Secretary of Education, Julia Keleher, was one of the top PR officials being investigated by the F.B.I. for corruption, there were so many news stories about Puerto Rico and its corrupt education system. But since then I haven’t heard much from anyone about the schools. Schools were shut down and we still don’t have an idea of the lasting effect that has had on Puerto Rican students.
This video is a year old, and some of the Keleher soundbites have not aged well, but the sentiment behind it: that one of the largest school districts has been left behind by the government is still relevant to this day.