Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

What lessons are the teachers of southern Mexico teaching?

The main teachers union had its beginning as part of the PRI. The dissidents in the south felt neglected and excluded from decision-making power. It's literally a power struggle and a test of the government's capacity.

(And where was the editor who approved the first two paragraphs? The first one identifies "they" (the teachers) as the primary actors. The second paragraph identifies an "it" (the union) as the primary actor.)

Mexican government wants to tame disruptive teachers’ union
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…

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…

The showdown focuses on whether the members of the union’s militant offshoot, with 80,000 members, will submit to standardized tests intended to assess knowledge of subject areas…

But teachers are resisting in… Oaxaca… one of the most vocal local chapters. Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in the country, and government officials say the union there controls the education budget, decides which teachers get paid and promoted, and blocks government school programs they disagree with…

The union in Oaxaca “has the power of the state without the corresponding obligations,” said a federal government briefing paper on the problems there…

During the run-up to the election, the Oaxacan teachers vowed to prevent the election from taking place… More than 10,000 soldiers were deployed to the state to protect voting booths.

The fears of wider vandalism or violence pressured the government to agree to halt the tests for teachers… On election day, people rallied and torched some ballots… but the vote proceeded relatively smoothly. The next day, Peña Nieto’s government reinstated the teachers’ testing and vowed to push ahead with their overhauls…

Testing is happening across the country except in the states of Oaxaca, Michoacán and parts of Chiapas, according to education officials…

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