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How a Mexican Teacher Union Thwarted the President's Education Reform

Whitney Eulich - The Christian Science Monitor
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June 2, 2015

Members of the teacher's union CNTE take part in a march along Reforma Avenue in Mexico City on Monday. Thousands of Mexican teachers protested on the streets of Mexico City against a crucial part of President Enrique Pena Nieto's education reform, sensing that government support for it was crumbling. (Henry Romero/Reuters)

Mexicans don't agree on much. But nearly everyone agrees that without reforming education – which delivers poor results despite generous public funding – talk of a Mexican renaissance under President Enrique Peña Nieto isn't likely to materialize.

Which is why one group's opposition to overhauling education has blown up into a crucial test of the president's reform agenda.

Last Friday, the government announced it would indefinitely suspend nationally administered evaluations, a cornerstone of its education reform that has been written into the constitution.

Education was the first covered by a series of sweeping reforms presented by Peña Nieto and passed by a multi-party coalition in Congress. It was followed by other changes in long-protected sectors like energy and telecommunications, all designed to pave the way for a more competitive nation.

But a dissident branch of a national teachers' union, and longtime opponent of education reforms, has been urging voters to boycott June 7 midterm elections. And that appears to have stayed the president's hand. Yet his willingness to surrender a crucial reform measure has many questioning his motivations and ability to lead the nation.

This is “a sign of [government] stagnation,” says Alejandro Schtulmann, president of Emerging Markets Political Risk Analysis, a consultancy in Mexico City. “Education is at the core of Mexico’s future. We have so much corruption and so much crime because we don’t have good education in Mexico.”

Read the rest at The Christian Science Monitor

Related: Mexico Public Education Advisory Council Sets June 8 Deadline for Re-establishing Teacher Evaluations (Mexico Voices)

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