Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Oaxaca school teachers again abandon their students

Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca -
Members of the radical teachers' union Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE), which last year wreaked havoc in Mexico City, Oaxaca state and other locations for many weeks in a failed effort to stop historic education reforms approved overwhelmingly by the federal Congress, yesterday cancelled classes for more than 1.3 million students in 14,000 elementary and high schools in this impoverished Pacific coast state.

CNTE Local 22 called a one day strike to protest the second anniversary of president Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office on Dec. 1, 2012, and the case of the missing and presumed dead 43 college students who disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero on Sept. 26.

With multi-party support from a broad political coalition, in Sept. 2013 the Peña Nieto administration pushed through reforms which prohibit the buying, selling and bequeathing of teaching positions, and require all new hires to pass a preparedness and competency evaluation. Even vested teachers will be subject to periodic retesting. Those who are unable to meet education standards after three tries will be transferred to administrative positions. The reforms will come into full force in 2015. Members of the powerful CNTE syndicate insist they will not comply, and are bitterly opposed to the president for his sponsorship of the reforms. School closings spread to Yucatán, but Peña Nieto says "there's no turning back."

In the fall of 2013 Local 22 abandoned classrooms for many weeks, idling almost a million students. When they returned on Oct. 15, it was on the condition that Oaxaca governor Gabino Cué pay them an aggregate $90 million dollars for days they had not yet worked. During their long work stoppage, CNTE contingents occupied the heart of Mexico City, forcing the Senate and House of Deputies on one occasion to abandon their regular meeting place. While radical elements of the union battled security forces and attempted to close down the capital's international airport, local merchants lost millions of dollars in revenues. The government finally had to forcibly dislodge strikers from the city. Mexico City labor violence, through the lens.

In addition to shutting down schools statewide yesterday, CNTE blocked access to commercial establishments, government offices and major highways in this capital from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Union activists have been camped out in the city's zócalo for four months, disrupting business and damaging the already fragile local economy, which is heavily dependent upon domestic and foreign tourism. Governor Cué has implored syndicate members to withdraw, but to no avail. The union insists that the state legislature "modify" the 2013 federal education reforms to its liking, something which would almost surely not survive pending judicial review. Peña Nieto administration sues four Mexican states over education reforms.

CNTE is closely linked with ultra-left political forces in Mexico. It has shown no hesitancy to openly resist federal and state police authority, at times taking into custody law enforcement personnel.

Aug. 17 - Oaxaca state tenses as Mexico's school year begins
May 15 - On Mexican National Teachers' Day, the sweet racket of their powerful unions is exposed

Oct. 15 - Oaxaca's governor caves to school teachers
Oct. 1 - Radical teachers' syndicate returns to Mexico City streets
Aug. 30 - Oaxaca education at the mercy of omnipotent syndicate
Aug. 25 - PRI government shows no resolve against thug teachers
Aug 19 - It's back to school day in Mexico, but teacher strikes idle almost a million in Oaxaca

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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