Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, August 04, 2016

What do students learn from a teachers' strike?

Does Mexico have a federal system or a unitary system? What would it be called if the teachers' union controlled public schools? Would the school still be public? This issue deserves more investigation. Do you have experience in Mexican schools that can shed light on this situation?

Why teachers have been occupying one of Mexico’s most alluring public spaces since May
With its towering cathedral, stately trees and many cafes, the central plaza here usually exudes a sense of peace and elegance…

But sit-ins, roadblocks and violence linked to Mexico's roiling conflict between teachers and the federal government have cast a pall over Oaxaca City and the Guelaguetza, the signature annual celebration of the indigenous and mestizo heritage of this culturally rich state.

The plaza, or zocalo, has become a desolate eyesore, a tent city of sleeping bags and plastic mats topped with a jagged array of plastic tarps thrown up as protection against daily thunderstorms.
Teachers enraged at federal education reforms have occupied the plaza since May, stranding thousands of pupils…

The Guelaguetza starts Monday and hotel bookings are down 50% or more in the heavily tourism-reliant capital of the state also called Oaxaca…

“We won’t leave until our demands are met,” vowed Nelly Ruth Vicente, one of a number of teachers posted at a blockade…

“This is all about politics,” asserted Villacana, a member of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, whose standard-bearer is President Enrique Pena Nieto, architect of the controversial education overhaul package and chief villain of the protesting teachers.

For their part, the teachers say they have no plans to pull back until the government modifies its sweeping blueprint for an education overhaul, especially a new call for mandatory evaluations of teachers…
“What the government wants is not reform of education, it’s control of the schools and destruction of education in our communities,” said Pedro Ariel Aparacio, a 26-year veteran teacher from rural Oaxaca…

There is widespread agreement that Mexico’s public education system is dysfunctional and widely corrupt, representing a major barrier to social mobility for generations of Mexicans…

Both the government and the unions share responsibility for the dismal state of Mexican public education, experts agree.

Many critics have cited unions’ traditional near total control of the educational system, from hiring of teachers to deciding on curriculum…

Caught in the middle of the current conflict are tens of thousands of students who lost up to six weeks of classes since the teachers walked out in May. Teacher strikes have become an almost annual event in Oaxaca, where students regularly score near the bottom on nationwide standardized tests.

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