Puerto Rican Education Scandal

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A Great Blow To Puerto Rican Pride and Education Due to the recent scandal with the Department of Education of Puerto Rico, the nation has taken a great blow to its pride and quality of education. More than four million dollars have been accounted to be part of the scandal, with more possible funds being involved. One of the main issues is the fact that government officials such as Victor Fajardo, the man in charge of federal funds for the Department of Education, have allegedly stolen money from these funds, creating a huge scandal as well as a blow to the reputation of the Department of Education. Many do not trust the government anymore and fear other scandals might arise. This is not just because of the Department of Education scandal, but rather from a series of ongoing scandals that have been going on in Puerto Rico.

Teachers such as Jose Nieves are outraged at the matter in hand.

They cannot believe that such corruption exists within the government of Puerto Rico. His school is technically falling apart and lacking in supplies. Claiming "It's something incredible, inconceivable, that they play in this way with money that's for the schools" Nieves protests and is outraged at the recent scandal. Victor Fajardo is perhaps the main federal offender involved in the scandal, being involved in the theft of more than four million dollars, of which one million went to the campaign promoting statehood a couple of years ago. Yet another one accused in the scandal is the ex-president of Puerto Rico's Chamber of Commerce, Richard D'Costa. Using his two companies (Universal Career Counseling Center and World Learning Systems), D'Costa was part of the money scandal having to do with the Department of Education. About two million dollars were given to Universal Career Counseling Center and about one million to World Learning Systems, proving D'Costa's involvement in the scandal.

Amongst others involved was contractor Jesus Emilio Rivera Class and Norman T. Olson Jr., who turned himself in. According to authorities, Victor Fajardo had given Rivera Class about forty-four million dollars for his company, called Quality Educational Services, giving Fajardo a home in Guaynabo in return. The current governor of Puerto Rico, Sila Calderon, has strictly condemned the actions taken by the offenders such as Fajardo. She is willing to push for campaign finance reform in order to prevent such scandals in the future. Most of the money involved in the scandal was supposed to be used for improving computers in schools and training teachers in the use of computers. Maldonado, an expert in politics that has been observing the island's political progress since the 1960s, claimed "Puerto Rico has never seen so many federal [corruption] cases, and this has to have an impact." All these scandals may affect the outcome of the upcoming elections. Taking this into consideration, the New Progressive Party would have to consider reforming itself into a new party in order to wipe out its current dark side. It is very hard for this political party to regain its reputation not only because of the Department of Education scandal, but also because of previous scandals having to do with the New Progressive Party and its members. Most of the scandals have been the theft of federal funds in order to finance personal campaigns and such. Maldonado claims "Corruption is the most important issue in the election. It's not the local politicians pointing fingers at each other or even the local press. People are being prosecuted in the federal courts." The scandal has led Congress to consider denying federal funds for a time period until the case has been completely solved and investigated.

The Department of Education scandal is not the first sign of corruption seen in the New Progressive Party throughout the years. There have been several incidents. For example, during governor Pedro Rosello's term, high ranking officials were charged of stealing around two million and two hundred thousand dollars which was meant for AIDS patients. This is not only immoral, but it proves that the New Progressive Party has lost its reputation over the years for a reason. Another incident has to do with New Progressive Party member Valle. He sold "free land" to a man named Richard Rivera Morales for two thousand five hundred dollars. This "free land" was not meant to be sold, rather, used for poor people who needed homes. Richard testified against Valle when Valle refused to give him the money back. This cost Valle his seat in the two thousand elections.

Even now the New Progressive Party struggles to reclaim its reputation. New Progressive Party President Carlos Pesquera claims that the NPP party is an "open book"; they will provide all the information needed. According to Pesquera "whoever did something wrong should pay for it," regardless of testimony or deals with the federal authorities. He claims to want the truth to come out, but how can the people trust the New Progressive Party President with all the scandals that have occurred in the past. The people certainly will take a long time to regain trust in a party who has dozens of members charged with federal crimes.

Because of the bad reputation and past scandals, the New Progressive Party will probably reform itself if not make a completely new party. If they do not do this, the New Progressive Party will be at a disadvantage for future elections for quite some time. By reforming the party and giving it a new name, the people might see it as something new, rather than the same old New Progressive Party whose members have caused so many scandals having to do with federal funds and other money. Only time will tell what will really happen, but the most obvious explanation seems to be a reform of the New Progressive Party into a new pro-statehood organization.