Monday, August 19, 2019

President of Puerto Rico Teacher Union Resigns Over Conflict of Interest

There's a long history of the relationship between the various versions of the Puerto Rico Teachers Union over the past 15 years. There are two versions - the FMPR - the left - which pulled the PR union out of the AFT over a decade ago -- we covered that story extensively and over the years Ed Notes has been a political supported of the leaders of the FMPR through my old UFT colleague and pal, Angel Gonzalez.

Naturally Randi was vexed by the FMPR which came under severe attacks by the government of PR - and eventually was decertified which opened the door for the Randi/AFT friendly AMPR to become the official union in PR, a story we also covered extensively.

For links just search Ed Notes for FMPR -- there are probably dozens of articles. Here is one I posted 
Wednesday, November 25, 2015

MORE Supports Puerto Rican Teachers Union, Links to Backstory

Angel Gonzalez (left ), Lisa North, FMPR Pres. Rafael Feliciano at forum c. 2011
ICE, GEM and now MORE have been supporting the FMPR for over a decade, since they bolted from the AFT - they sued but lost and the FMPR won and withdrew 40,000 AFT members.We established contact with the FMPR through NYC teacher Angel Gonzalez who worked with ICE and then helped found GEM. His good friend, FMPR President Rafael Feliciano,  made a number of visits to speak at meetings and events. (We had some quotes from him in our movie.) It's been a long story, too complicated to tell now. I'm proud that MORE is contributing $200 to the support of the FMPR.
See also Dissent: Puerto Rico Remade

Below is an article Angel sent me in Spanish that I used google to translate, followed by the AFT Randi praise of Aida Diaz.

Aida Díaz will resign the presidency of the Teachers Association
The teacher leader announced that she called the Board of Directors of the organization for Tuesday

Saturday, August 17, 2019 - 5:11 PM


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Aida Diaz (GFR Medium)

The president of the Association of Teachers, Aida Díaz, will resign from the presidency of the organization she has led for 17 years, this in light of an alleged conflict of interest over her husband's contracts with the Department of Education.

Díaz told El Nuevo Día that she called the union's Board of Directors to a meeting for Tuesday. If they authorize it, then an enrollment assembly will be held at which they will submit their resignation.

"I'm already tired," she said and added that the first thing is her family. "In the last five months (my husband) has had three open heart operations," she said.

The decision of the teacher leader comes after different sectors asked for her exit by transcending in the press that her husband, Eusebio Rodríguez Oquendo, obtained $ 4.8 million in contracts with Education.

After his retirement, Rodríguez Oquendo created, in 2010, a corporation to provide tutoring to the students of the public current.

The Corporation Initiative for Educational Development and Learning Inc., has obtained $ 4.8 million in contracts with the government since its creation. Under the leadership of former Secretary of Education Julia Keleher, accused of participating in a fraud scheme to benefit contractors, $ 669,000 in contracts were awarded, equivalent to 14% of the total.

However, Diaz denied that her husband was enriched. "There is no conflict."

She also defended her work as president of the Association and said that "if they doubt it, they have to go to the record."

Díaz, who was a biology teacher, added that he was already scheduled to retire in December of this year. "I was preparing everything," he said.

Similarly, his daughter, Yarimir Rodríguez Díaz, who manages the Hospital del Maestro since 2018, will leave his post. He said he called her and said: "You have to do me a favor, you have to go." Rodríguez Díaz replied that he was leaving.

"The new Puerto Rico cannot be built by destroying reputations," Díaz said.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Teachers published a tweet that "the departure of Aída Díaz from the leadership of the Association of Teachers is a confirmation of the clear moral conflict incurred by the employer. We remind, however, that this organization is a management company that does not represent the teacher well. "
 Here is Randi's letter praising Aida Diaz. I leave it to you to judge the merits.
AFT President Randi Weingarten’s Statement on Resignation of Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico President Aida Díaz
Lauds Her Years of Service and Commitment to Puerto Rico’s Teachers and Students
WASHINGTON—American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement on the resignation of Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico President Aida Díaz:
“Aida Díaz, president of the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, is a woman of valor. Her resignation is a sad moment for everyone who knows her or her work, particularly for teachers, children and communities across Puerto Rico. The union movement is diminished today because her vibrant voice and fierce advocacy are leaving the arena after decades of exemplary work. By any objective standard, no one can say that she did not throw her heart and soul into improving public education, supporting educators and lifting children.
“In the last three years, as AMPR went through a process of affiliating with the AFT and since then, I have had a front-row seat watching Díaz’s work. No one has fought harder or been a stronger advocate than Díaz for public education, for teachers, and for providing children with the opportunity to live up to their God-given potential. She has been a significant and important leader for Puerto Rico—an ‘adult in the room’—and we will miss her tremendously.
“It was never easy to be the president of AMPR, and that was especially true during the tenure of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. I witnessed Díaz, AMPR and Puerto Rico’s loving, compassionate and dedicated teachers, work to reopen schools that had been devastated by the hurricane; for many schools, this was only possible because teachers cleaned and repaired them with their bare hands.
"I watched Díaz fight the closures of more than 300 schools because she believed deep in her bones that teachers should be respected and schools should be safe and nurturing places for children. I watched her fight the draining of money from already underfunded traditional public schools to fund charter schools. I watched her fight the failure to provide enough teachers for kids with special needs and the appalling lack of modern textbooks in classrooms. I watched her fight for teachers to be paid a living wage and to protect teachers’ pensions and healthcare.
“That both Puerto Rico’s governor and secretary of education fought her aggressively on all these issues, and that both were forced to leave in a cloud of corruption and scandal, is all you need to know about Díaz’s heart and leadership. She spoke truth to power and was relentless in her efforts to protect teachers, children and communities.” 
Follow AFT President Randi Weingarten:
For Immediate Release
Sunday, August 18
Andrew Crook

The American Federation of Teachers is a union of 1.7 million professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.

Randi Weingarten                                                    Lorretta Johnson                                                                     Evelyn DeJesus
                 PRESIDENT                                                SECRETARY-TREASURER                                                        EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

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