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Teachers striking in Mexico City

August 28, 2013

Mexico has developed a reputation for having one of North America's more problematic educational systems. This issue has engendered an ongoing conflict between the national government and the country's teachers' unions, including the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE). In the past week, this organization and others like it have disrupted government operations through various strikes and protests. According to The Wall Street Journal, the latest of these currently occupies the main square of Mexico City as a makeshift tent city. Those who have relatives in Mexico City may wish to contact them using international calling cards to ensure they are not caught up in the upheaval.

Clash over education legislation
The news source reported that the latest sticking point dividing the unions and federal government is a proposed education bill, championed by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto as part of a number of reforms he has recently worked to implement. The legislation would establish mandatory evaluations of public school teachers and dictates that educators who earned unfavorable results could be fired. 

The CNTE has repeatedly stated that a consistent lack of funding is to blame for the school system's problems, and that any regulation would amount to a privatization of the sector. 

Union disruption and aggression
One week earlier, CNTE protestors stormed the Mexican Congress and forced them to move into a nearby bank. The disruption prompted lawmakers to postpone voting on the teacher evaluation tenet of the proposed bill, according to The Los Angeles Times. 

Francisco Bravo, a union protester, told media that the bill was "an attack on the teaching profession and does absolutely nothing to help improve education." 

Critics of the union, such as Claudio X. Gonzalez, president of education advocacy organization Mexicanos Primero, state that the reform is essential to end the status quo of teachers' practices. Under current union rules, teachers often simply pass down their jobs to sons or daughters or sell them to the highest bidder, allowing for no examination of credentials.

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