By Peter Orsi / Associated Press
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.