In a message to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Puerto Rico Education Secretary Rafael Roman Melendez further made the case about the commonwealth’s debt crisis and the impact on children’s education.
A “Deteriorating” Fiscal Crisis
According to Melendez, Puerto Rico’s economic problems are “deteriorating at a very rapid pace,” and it’s taking a poll on children’s health and safety.
“The programs I oversee are in distress as there is simply insufficient cash to address the needs of 379,818 children that attend public schools in Puerto Rico,” wrote Melendez, noting that the children are the island’s only hope to rescue the commonwealth’s troubles. “Washington must act soon to avoid a preventable and irreparable harm to their development and wellbeing.”
Acknowledging that his role, as secretary of education in the island, is to ensure children are given development opportunities particularly in social and educational skills. However, children are paying the consequences as a result of the congressional inaction, such as payments for classroom services, transportation, breakfast and lunch food supplies, “which are often the only meals some children consume during the day, as close to 58 [percent] of Puerto Ricans live in poverty.”