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Tags: puerto rico | debt | california | teachers | tenure | taxpayers

Puerto Rico's Debt Woes Serve as Warning for California

Puerto Rico's Debt Woes Serve as Warning for California
The flags of Puerto Rico and the U.S. fly side-by-side on May 8, 2017, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as the former Spanish colony of 3.5 million, now a U.S. territory, struggles under a mountain of debt. The governor of Puerto Rico announced that the U.S. territory would seek a form of bankruptcy protection to restructure its $70 billion debt. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Reagan By Saturday, 13 May 2017 07:03 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Puerto Rico has all the attributes of wall-to-wall leftist government: social justice, identity politics, perpetual victimization, and budget deficits.

The school system is also run more as a jobs program for educrats and teachers and less of an educational institution focused on students. The latest news from Puerto Rico is the commonwealth is bankrupt. The Associated Press reports, "Puerto Rico is closing 179 public schools in a move expected to save more than $7 million amid a deep economic crisis that has sparked an exodus to the U.S. mainland in the past decade."

Education Secretary Julia Keleher explained, "We have a fiscal crisis and few resources and we've spent 10 years handing out nearly $3 billion in a system that hardly has any books. We cannot keep doing what we're doing because we don't have the resources."

Big spending and population loss makes Puerto Rico similar to California. Puerto Rico has problems now, but that are a result of California-like spending in the past.

Closing 179 schools sounds pretty grim. It would only be natural if you imagined children wedged into tiny classrooms and multiple grades taught by a single teacher. That marks you as someone who assumes government makes wise decisions like you do. But you would be wrong.

Here are some facts that put Puerto Rico’s troubles in a new light. No one puts an exact figure on how much money the closures will save, but the claim is "millions of dollars." Yet at the same time Keleher assures educrats "no one will be laid off amid the closures."

This will leave Puerto Rico taxpayers with 1,113 schools serving 365,000 students after the closures. Dividing total number of students by the number of schools gives the starting figure of 327 students per school! I know that’s a crude method that doesn’t account for age distribution, but compare it to California schools, which are notorious for spending.

Here, K thru 6th grade schools average 581 students. Middle schools (7th and 8th grade) average 770 students. And high schools have an average of 1,409 students. When you add teachers per student to the mix the jobs program aspect of Puerto Rican education is even worse.

Puerto Rico has 46,000 teachers, but only 32,000 are tenured. The rest are temporary or on a year-to-year basis. So we will go with the lower figure. Dividing that into the number of students gives us an average of 11.5 students per teacher! That’s the ratio for an advanced graduate program at a major university.

No wonder the commonwealth is bankrupt.

Here on the mainland when Detroit filed bankruptcy with $20 billion in debt it was the largest municipal bankruptcy in history. Puerto Rico’s debt load is six times larger. The commonwealth is $123 billion in the hole.

As a result of the politician’s free-spending ways people who invested their savings in Puerto Rico bonds just saw their money vanish in a default. The sales tax is 11.5 percent, a gallon of milk is $6.25 and pensions are being cut.

And the exodus has accelerated. In the last decade alone 450,000 people left the commonwealth for states located on the mainland. That number represents 12 percent of the population. In California terms it would be 3.8 million heading for Texas or Arizona.

California already suffers a net outflow of population and much of the budget goes to funding the shortfall in public employee pensions. If the leftist politicians here continue to spend, tax, and grow the size of government the next economic downturn may produce a financial disaster that far outstrips Puerto Rico’s.

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

© Mike Reagan

Puerto Rico has all the attributes of wall-to-wall leftist government: social justice, identity politics, perpetual victimization, and budget deficits.
puerto rico, debt, california, teachers, tenure, taxpayers
Saturday, 13 May 2017 07:03 PM
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