Rafael Cordero (October, 1790–July 5, 1868), known as "The Father of Public Education in Puerto Rico", was a self-educated Puerto Rican who provided free schooling to children regardless of their race or social standing.
Cordero was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico into a poor family, his father was a poor man who worked in the tobacco fields. Cordero, who was of African ancestry, was self-educated. His love of literature and his determination to teach and educate himself helped him to develop the skills and preparation to teach primary school. Cordero, a devout Catholic, received the rite of Confirmation at fourteen years old from Bishop Juan Alejo de Arizmendi (1760–1814), the first Puerto Rican to be consecrated Bishop in San Juan.
At the beginning of the 19th century Rafael Cordero established, in his house, a free school for all children, regardless of race, who were unable to afford an education otherwise. Cordero maintained his educational center for 58 years at Luna Street in San Juan. There he taught reading, calligraphy, mathematics and Catholic instruction.