Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mexico's Senate passes education reform bill, as labor unions threaten further civil disobedience in capital

Teaching jobs will no longer go to the highest bidder - or pass by inheritance

Guadalajara -
In Mexico City this evening the Senate passed the same educational reform package approved by the lower chamber of congress on Sunday night. Mexico's House of Deputies passes education reforms.

The legislation, which was carried with broad mutlti-partisan support from the political far left to right, will modernize an archaic system of teacher evaluation which has enabled powerful labor unions to completely dominate primary and secondary education for decades in some regions of the country.

The roll call tonight was 102 yeas versus 22 nays, after day long debates, proffered amendments and parliamentary maneuvering. Legislators did not vote until almost 11:00 p.m. The tally two nights ago in the lower house also evidenced overwhelming support, 360-69.

The measure, which will take effect in the 2015-16 school year, now moves to the president's desk.

A bill setting up a federal agency for the evaluation of educators was approved by the Senate on Aug. 23, on a 91-20 vote. The agency's primary duty will be to set uniform minimum teaching qualifications applicable across Mexico, and to administer competency and preparedness examinations based on national, rather than local, regional or union determined standards. The reforms will also help divest syndicates of their stranglehold on public education systems, which in some areas remain thoroughly infected with union politics, where teaching positions can be bought, sold and even inherited. Oaxaca education at the mercy of omnipotent syndicate.

A PRI senator told the chamber that the voices of teachers will still have the attention of legislators. "But teaching positions will no longer be sold like mere commodities in the marketplace. There will be no compromise in our efforts to improve the quality of education. Nor will we take a step backwards in our plan to transform and democratize our national system of education."

In his state of the nation address yesterday, president Enrique Peña Nieto praised the Cámara de Diputados for its passage of the reforms, and said nothing would deter their implementation by his Institutional Revolutionary Party administration. The reforms are critical, said the president, so that Mexico's children can move forward and compete with the rest of the world. He promised families equal educational opportunities, regardless of where they live. "Mexico's children are its ultimate national security," the president noted. Peña Nieto delivers his first state of the union address.

Although most educators fully support the modernization plan, tens of thousands have resisted it for months, especially in the southwestern states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Michoacán. Teachers in three states again form picket lines. In Oaxaca children have been out of school for three weeks due to work stoppages, with no end in sight to the walkout.

Earlier this year teachers filed almost 600 lawsuits challenging the underpinnings of the educational reforms. On June 7 a federal court in Mexico City dismissed all those actions, saying it had no legal authority to intervene since they were constitutional amendments already approved by the federal congress and a majority of the states. Continued teacher strikes idle a million students in Oaxaca.

Last week the governor of Oaxaca froze the pay of 74,000 striking teachers. Today the leader of Local 22 of the powerful Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE) said he plans to meet with Gabino Cué Monteagudo this week in an effort to get the wages released. But the union boss and tens of thousands of his fellow teachers remain in the Federal District tonight instead of in their classrooms, preparing to stage the next in a series of demonstrations which have disrupted the nation's capital for more than two weeks. PRI government shows no resolve against thug teachers.

Today CNTE marchers forced the closing of many streets in an always congested Mexico City. Union loyalists said they plan more acts of civil disobedience, while calling for a "national labor insurgency." Teachers' syndicate solicits nationwide strike. Members of the largely student composed organization YoSoy 132 accompanied some protesters, who said they will be out in force again tomorrow.

"Out!" - YoSoy 132, Mérida, June 3, 2012. They said their sole motive was fair media coverage of last year's presidential race, but they soon displayed a unity based on fierce opposition to PRI's nominee.

July 23, 2012 - YoSoy 132 "infiltrated," López Obrador is "crazy and violent" says Mexican politician
July 16, 2012 - YoSoy 132 discusses civil disobedience to stop Enrique Peña Nieto from taking office
June 16, 2012 - Yo NO Soy's "summer of discontent"

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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