Mexico’s government said it would dismiss 291 teachers who failed to comply with its education reform, hinting at a more confrontational approach to thousands of dissidents who have spent months resisting the landmark measure.
Education reform was the first of the major bills passed by President Enrique Pena Nieto after he took office in December 2012 in a bid to improve teaching standards in Latin America’s second largest economy, which experts blame for holding back growth.
Pena Nieto has described the reform as the one that would have the biggest impact on the country’s future.
However, the constitutional reform, which imposes more stringent rules on teachers and subjects them to evaluations, has been beset by problems, with violent demonstrations by militant teachers repeatedly sowing chaos in the southwest.
Dario de Yucatan – The Secretariat of Public Education will “defnitively dismiss” 291 teachers and technical teachers from service because they did not meet the requirement of the Diagnostic Evaluation.
Financial Times – Teachers opposed to Mexican education reforms on Monday closed nearly two-thirds of schools in the southern state of Oaxaca. Largely peaceful protests spread to the western and southern states of Michoacán, Guerrero and Tabasco, as well as Mexico City.
It looked like a normal first day of school at Patria Libre elementary. Uniformed kids sporting brand-new backpacks with their favorite cartoon characters — Dora the Explorer, Hello Kitty, the “Frozen” heroines — reunited with classmates and sang the national anthem.
But that’s far from normal in Oaxaca, a Mexican state where teachers’ strikes and protests cost the average student 50 days out of the 200-day academic calendar last year, according to federal education officials.
“Every year there has been a strike. … I’ve seen my kids falling behind, and we’ve had to support them at home so they can learn,” said Claudia Rodriguez Sosa, a 33-year-old mother of three students from pre- to high school.
Some parents say teachers threatened not to pass their children if they didn’t support the union, whose demands ranged from higher pay to the resignation of a former governor.
Now that seems to be changing as a national education reform pushed by President Enrique Pena Nieto takes root in the last strongholds of resistance by teachers’ unions.
Mexico’s government is gaining the upper hand against a militant teacher’s group in the southern state of Oaxaca, an opponent that has long proved just as hard to corral as billionaire scofflaws and powerful drug cartels.
In recent weeks, the federal and state governments, seeking to implement a signal overhaul of education, fired and replaced some 300 members of a powerful group of dissident teachers from their management positions at Oaxaca’s education agency. The group, the National Coordinator of Educational Workers or CNTE, has for decades controlled hiring in public education there and in some of Mexico’s other poorest states, including through practices like selling teacher posts and engaging in violent and disruptive protests.
On Wednesday, pressure against the group mounted when Mexico’s attorney general office confirmed that two judges have ordered the arrest of 15 CNTE teachers in Oaxaca on charges of trying to disrupt June mid-term parliamentary elections. Lawyers for the teachers say they will file for an injunction.
The moves are part of a push by the government to face down the dissident teachers, who have gone on strike almost every year since the late 1970s, often paralyzing sections of the country and leaving millions of children without classes.
El Universal – The presence of the federal police in Oaxaca will be increased, and workers are being deployed to undergo repairs at schools that have been damaged in the violence that has resulted from education reforms.
Televisa – The Ministry of Public Education (SEP) reported that 46.8 percent of teachers seeking management positions in education are not qualified. That amounts to some 18,872 teachers who did not make the grade.
It has been a tough 10 days for Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto. First the country’s top drug lord broke out of jail. Then the first auction of his flagship energy reform flopped.
And now, he faces a bruising battle with a dissident teachers’ union determined to sink his overhaul of the country’s ailing education system.
The CNTE rallied its members to stage strikes and protests in four states after Oaxaca Gov. Gabino Cué on Tuesday ejected the union from its 22-year stranglehold on education in the southern state.
The move, co-ordinated with Peña Nieto’s government, was equivalent to throwing down the gauntlet to a union that has paralysed implementation of the education reform in Oaxaca and three other states. “They will not take what is ours,” Rubén Nuñez, a leader of the Oaxaca chapter of the union, vowed at a rally in the city’s main square as the union prepared to define its full response on Wednesday.
“This is a really important, even brave announcement,” said Marco Fernández, a professor at the Tecnológico de Monterrey and researcher at the México Evalúa and Wilson Center think-tanks. “Unavoidably there will be conflict in the coming days.”
Although investors have given more attention to the government’s energy reform, lifting education standards is considered vital to Mexico’s ambitions to boost productivity and vault into the advanced, high-income economy bracket.
They have seized public plazas and filled them with sprawling tent cities. They have burned government buildings and choked off a city’s gasoline supply. They have held marches and torched ballots and closed schools for weeks at a time.
Mexico’s rowdy public school teachers’ union — particularly the branch based in the southern state of Oaxaca — has long been a thorn in the government’s side, as it wages its battle against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s restructuring of the education system.
But now that last month’s midterm election has passed, and the teachers’ threats of an election boycott largely failed, Peña Nieto’s administration wants to strike harder at the union by sapping its funding and wresting control back into the hands of the state, according to Mexican officials.
CCTV – Mexico has long had a problem retaining skilled teachers who seek employment in other countries offering incentives. Despite increased spending by Mexican employers to keep academics from looking elsewhere, many professors still see opportunities across the border as a better bet.
Dario de Yucatan – In criticizing the inability of Education Secretary Emilio Chuayffet to resolve the teachers’ problem in states like Guerrero and Oaxaca, the National Action Party in the House of Representatives is seeking an appearance by officials of the Interior Ministry.
AP – Mexico has enacted a measure meant to help hundreds of thousands of young migrants who have returned from the United States, dropping a requirement that they provide government-certified, translated copies of foreign school records in order to study in Mexico.
AP – The Mexican government says teacher testing will go on as planned, despite the objections of radical teachers’ unions. Testing will be held between September and November for about 360,000 public school teachers and almost 193,000 people applying for teaching jobs.
Sentido Comun – The Ministry of Education announced that the dates for carrying out the teaching evaluation, which were “suspended indefinitely” 10 days ago, have been re-established and unchanged after the technical problems faced by some local authorities.
The Mexican government suspended indefinitely its planned teacher evaluations that were a cornerstone of the country’s education overhaul, in a decision ahead of midterm elections that dissident teacher groups threatened to boycott.
The evaluations for teachers had been scheduled for coming months.
The Education Ministry didn’t explain its reasons for suspending the tests, except to say in a statement that there were “new elements to be considered.”
The education reform was the first of a series of legal changes pushed through Congress by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, and so far the one that has faced the toughest opposition.