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Puerto Rican And The American Education System

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To Puerto Rican students aged 6 to 18 in 1898 until 1915, an average school day was quite different from what you might expect. When the United States gained control of the island in 1898, they intended to colonize and integrate them into American society. One of their methods was to implement the American educational system, therefore teaching the younger generation English instead of Spanish, and teaching them American values. I’m sure that those who were taught during that era remember the green and yellow, or navy blue, uniforms, the average one to two mile walk to school, as well as the teachers in starched, white blouses trying to get everyone organized in a language no one truly knew.1 “Pleese form a lain.”
After clumsily memorizing the lines to a few songs on the first day, they’d end up singing words in this foreign language at the beginning of each school day for the rest of their compulsory education, pledging allegiance to “la pecosa”, the flag of a country thousands of miles away, a country they most likely never set foot on. After the Pledge of Allegiance, they’d sing the following ditty:
Puerto Rico is a beautiful island
It belongs to the United States
Our children speak English and Spanish
And salute our flag every day.2
Imagine how different your school life would have been if every high school class was suddenly was taught in a foreign language. This was the sudden, shocking reality that many young Puerto Rican children and teenagers faced after the United
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