Monday, August 11, 2014

Sixty percent of Mexican high school grads fall short on reading skills, while powerful teachers' union continues to resist mandatory education reforms

Guadalajara -
Last week a Mexican national evaluation of high school graduates revealed that 60% of diploma holders have "elementary, insufficient" communication skills, to the extent that they are unable to understand much or most of what they read. The same percentage have only the most basic mathematical abilities.

In late 2013, Mexico's federal congress passed, by a 5-1 majority, perhaps the most comprehensive set of education reforms in the nation's history. 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 after three attempts.

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 is closely identified with ultra-left politics in Mexico.

After the congressional reforms were passed 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. In Oaxaca, the rank and file of CNTE Local 22 - perennially opposed to any type of education modernization and reform - continue to resist the new laws, which are now almost a year old.

CNTE occupied Mexico City for many weeks last year in lieu of educating their young charges in the classroom. Many continued to collect their paychecks. Some 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Although the education reforms stand no chance of being repealed, CNTE teachers in Oaxaca today continue efforts to avoid complying with them, demanding that their local (state) legislature override them with different rules and insisting they will not submit to federal competency and preparedness exams. The administration went to court earlier this year to resist such efforts, which have no legal basis. Peña Nieto administration sues four Mexican states over education reforms.

Leading CNTE supporters include former 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.

In 2012 Mexico had a gross domestic product of $1.78 trillion U.S. dollars, then the 11th largest in the world, of which 6.2% was devoted to public education. Almost all of those funds - 93% - were spent on teacher salaries. On Mexican National Teachers' Day, sweet racket carved out by their powerful unions is exposed.

Despite that enormous financial commitment, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has ranked Mexico 34 out of 36 member nations evaluated for quality of education. Apr. 11, 2013 - Illiteracy, rudimentary education hold back 40% of Mexico.

Mexico's 2014-15 school year may prove to be, at least in some states, much a repeat of last year's.

Aug. 18 - Mexico will award two million academic scholarships, hoping to turn the tide against huge dropout rate
Aug. 17 - Oaxaca state tenses, as Mexico's new school year begins
Apr. 15 - Peña Nieto administration sues four Mexican states over education reforms

2013 education reforms
Aug. 19 - Continued teacher strikes idle almost a million students in Oaxaca
Aug. 29 - Teachers' union calls for nationwide strike
Aug. 31 - Oaxaca freezes pay of striking teachers
Sept. 2 - Mexico's House of Deputies passes education reforms
Sept. 3 - Mexico's Senate passes education reform bill, as labor unions threaten civil disobedience
Sept. 4 - Oaxaca governor holds tough and refuses to pay dissident teachers
Sept. 4 - Teachers' union ups the ante, calling indefinite strike in Chiapas
Sept. 6 - School closings spread to Yucatán, but Peña Nieto says "there's no turning back"
Sept. 12 - Yucatán teachers fold, agree to return to the schoolhouse
Oct. 15 - Oaxaca's governor caves to school teachers
Oct. 31 - Teachers return to Guadalajara streets, protesting alleged education privatization

© 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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