Thursday, May 15, 2014

On Mexican National Teachers' Day, the sweet racket carved out by their powerful unions is exposed

70 syndicate members earn more than the President of the Republic

Guadalajara -
A study released yesterday by the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO) revealed that nonexistent "phantom" schools pay millions of pesos monthly to persons carried on their books as teachers, while some states are still issuing payroll checks to teachers as old as 102.

At least 70 public school teachers earn more than president Enrique Peña Nieto does, IMCO reported. Those highest paid teachers earn an average of 193,458 pesos a month, or about $15,000 USD at today's exchange rate.

Peña Nieto's 2014 pay is about $20,500 USD per month, but that does not include extensive benefits beyond base salary.

IMCO identified one teacher in the southwestern state of Oaxaca whose 2013 monthly salary was 603,000 pesos, more than $46,000 USD.

In a nation where the minimum wage is $5 dollars a day, and a typical worker in a state like Jalisco earns about $75 a week - assuming he or she can find a job - the numbers have raised more than a few eyebrows in this country.

IMCO found 7,183 other teachers who average 100,000 pesos a month ($7,700 USD). Its study was based upon a review and analysis of public documents which Mexico's Secretary of Education and equivalent state departments are required to file.

The institute said the average national teaching salary in Mexico is 25,153 pesos, or $1,934 a month - two and a half times what a typical professional earns (10,000 pesos, or $770 USD). The average age of a teacher is 42, with about 60% women and 40% men.

IMCO concluded that over 91,000 public school teachers earn enough to be counted in the top 10% of Mexico's wealthiest households, which enjoy an average income of almost 45,000 pesos a month ($3,500 USD).

School administrators are doing fine too, with average earnings of over 33,000 pesos ($2,500 USD).

Sure to be IMCO's most controversial finding is the existence - or nonexistence - of 1,906 educational centers nationwide, whose 24,230 employees collectively earn over 343 million pesos monthly - about $26.4 million dollars. The schools are not real, but the wage earners and the payrolls are.

Guanajuato has 812 such phantom institutions, followed by Oaxaca with 324 and Veracruz with 306. Jalisco has 47.

Although the mandatory age for teacher retirement in Mexico is 65, IMCO discovered documents showing that thousands continue to collect paychecks long after that age. In the most shocking of the institute's revelations, Hidalgo state has 1,440 teachers on the payroll, all of whom purportedly were born in 1912 or earlier.

IMCO's report found that while teaching can be a quite lucrative profession in Mexico, school facilities themselves are often badly neglected. Mexico has hundred of so-called telesecundarias - junior and senior high school distance education programs, enabling students in rural areas to telecommute via home computers. But the institute found 536 were wired insufficiently, or lacked electricity altogether.

All public school teachers in Mexico belong to one of two powerful unions, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) or its far more radical and politicized cousin, the Coordinadora Nacional de los Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE). In some states CNTE controls from top to bottom the entire public education system. Oaxaca education at the mercy of omnipotent syndicate.

CNTE, which is closely affiliated with ultra-leftist political movements, occupied Mexico City for many weeks last year, trying to derail education reforms advanced by Peña Nieto's PRI administration and overwhelmingly approved by both houses of congress in September. Those reforms now outlaw the buying and selling of teacher posts, and their conveyance by union bosses to the syndicate rank and file or designated family members. New rules will also require all teachers to submit to competency and preparedness exams beginning in 2015, with demotion or dismissal for those who fail. In protest thousands of CNTE teachers walked out of their classrooms in Oaxaca, Guerrero and other states for months, idling millions of school children. PRI government shows no resolve against thug teachers. When they carried their complaints to the nation's capital, many union strikers did not hesitate to use violence, costing Mexico City merchants tens of millions of dollars in lost earnings. Radical teachers' syndicate returns to Mexico City streets.

Although the education reforms stand no chance of being repealed, teachers in several states continue efforts to avoid complying with them, such as setting up their own evaluation panels in violation of a federal law which assigns that task exclusively to a federal agency, the Instituto Nacional para la Evaluación de la Educación (INEE). Peña Nieto administration sues four Mexican states over education reforms.

Leading CNTE supporters include two time presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and Mexican literary giant Elena Poniatowska, the nation's "grande dame of letters." Both are devotees of the far Left.

Guadalajara, October 2013. Marching SNTE teachers called Mexico's new education reforms a violation of their "labor rights."

Mexico devotes 6.2% of its $1.78 trillion dollar GDP (2012) to education, with 93% of the funds going directly to teacher salaries. But the 36 member international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranks the country 34th for overall quality of education. National labor strike fizzles in Guadalajara and elsewhere, as federal education reforms take effect across the nation

May 20 - Huge salaries of Mexican Supreme Court judges far outstrip their judicial brethren

Oct. 31 - Teachers return to Guadalajara streets in large numbers
Sept. 6 - School closings spread to Yucatán, but Peña Nieto says "there's no turning back"
Aug. 29 - Teachers' union calls for nationwide strike
Apr. 19 - Guerrero erupts as angry teachers besiege state capitol
Apr. 11 - Illiteracy, rudimentary education hold back 40% of Mexico, while teachers in three states again form picket lines

Peña Nieto and Secretary of Education Emilio Chuayffet were put to the test in 2013 by the relentless opposition of CNTE to reforms designed to modernize the nation's woefully lagging education system.

© MGR 2014. 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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