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Chamber Deputy Says Education Bill at Risk, Senate Trying to Derail Reform

Yvonne Reyes Campos - The News
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December 19, 2012

MEXICO CITY – Mexican lawmakers are feuding over a Tuesday request from the Senate to the Chamber of Deputies to work on President Enrique Peña Nieto’s reform in a joint session in both houses.

Chamber of Deputies Constitutional Issues Committee President Julio Moreno accused the Senate of trying to obstruct the education reform. He said that the Senate is using its stature to bog down the education reform. Moreno said that he disagrees with the proposal to “work together” on the reform, sent by the Senate’s Political Coordination Board, which is headed by Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Senator Emilio Gamboa Patrón.

Moreno told senators that the reform would have been ready on Wednesday for analysis, discussion and approval in the Chamber of Deputies. “The reform was ready to be ruled on, and then at 11:45 a.m. it occurred (to the senators) to work on it together … the Senate is putting the education reform at risk,” he said.

He said that the reform should have been discussed in the Chamber of Deputies today and then sent immediately to the Senate for revision and, if needed, modification. Senators whims must not put the reform to Article 3 of the Constitution at risk, he said.

Deputy Moreno asked why the Senate would leave their request to the last minute and said he didn’t know if National Education Workers Union (SNTE) leader Elba Esther Gordillo or any other power was attempting to block the reform.

Earlier, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Deputy Coordinator Manlio Fabio Beltrones Rivera said he was confident that President Enrique Peña Nieto’s education reform would be approved today, but if not it would definitely “pass before the end of this (congressional) session period.”

Peña Nieto said last week that his education reform would give the National Education Evaluation Institute (INEE) constitutional status, protecting it from changes in the presidency.

The appointment of the INEE’s governing board has created disagreements, with Beltrones Rivera saying, “There are those who said that the president must not have any intervention in the appointment of the five members of the (governing board), which for us is unacceptable, becasue when it comes to education policy, the executive branch has a lot of responsibility.”

The education reform will outline how public education administration will be structured and evaluated in the future, Beltrones Rivera said, and reforming Article 3 of the Constitution will require consensus between all parties. When President Enrique Peña Nieto presented his education reform proposal a little over a week ago, he cited putting national education policy back in the hands of the Mexican government and creating the Professional Teacher Service as two key components.

Peña Nieto said that as part of the Professional Teacher Service, “good teachers will have the opportunity to move up based on their professional merits.”

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