Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15th to October 15th each year. It is an opportunity for classrooms across the United States to honor the contributions of the Latino community. Yet, even though Puerto Ricans make up the second largest group of Hispanic Americans in the United States, Puerto Rico is often ignored in classrooms in the States.
Each state has its own educational standards. Very few listed any requirements to study Puerto Rico in 2015, when we last examined the question.
Looking at State Social Studies standards today, we found that little has changed.
Washington, D.C., has the same question about Puerto Rico which they asked in 2015 (“Describe responses, particularly from the African American community, to the U.S. partition of Africa, the Cuban-Spanish-American War, annexation of Philippines, Hawaii, occupation of Haiti and Puerto Rico.”), but also now mentions the Island three more times in different standards.
Massachusetts has one mention of Puerto Rico, under the expansion of the United States.
Michigan is the only State we found that includes the question of Puerto Rico’s rights and representation — and Puerto Rico is just one possible example that can be used in such a lesson.
Utah asks students to evaluate “the positive and negative impacts of imperialism” and once again Puerto Rico is a possible example.
Most states do not include Puerto Rico in their standards at all. Those that do tend to focus on the acquisition of Puerto Rico by the United States. Very few include any 21st century or even 20th century events or conditions in Puerto Rico.
A 2019 study on textbooks coverage of Puerto Rico described the results as “dismaying.”Several of the texts they examined failed to mention Puerto Rico at all. Only a handful succeeded in “bringing Puerto Rico into the national narrative.”
We examined this issue in 2012. It does not appear that there has been significant improvement.
It was suggested that teachers should go to supplemental materials to find information on Puerto Rico for their classrooms, since textbooks tend to skip the territories. In fact, online resources are still limited.
Centro has a video course on the history of Puerto Rico. Otherwise, the resources we mentioned in the article above continue to represent most of the options.
The bottom line
Puerto Rico continues to be underrepresented in K-12 instruction in the States. The confusion we see among adults on topics like Puerto Rico’s status is likely to continue if this does not change.