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Education and a step to the right?

14 October 2013

A doff of the sombrero to Paul Imeson (Counterpunch, Independent (U.K.), etc.) for recommending what is, arguably, the best English-language explanation of our educational woes, the resistance to them, and the reasons for the resistance:
From the venerable U.S. quarterly magazine of culture and politics Dissent, comes Benjamin T. Smith’s “Teachers, Education Reform, and Mexico’s Left.”

… Drawing parallels between the school reforms and those of the petroleum industry and the fiscal system, [the political left] argue that the changes are steps on the way to a neoliberal apocalypse, the “elimination of social rights to education, housing, healthcare, and food.”

Without doubt, the teachers and their supporters have a point. The proposed reforms are ill thought out, disconcertingly vague, and have clearly been rushed through without proper consultation with either experts or broader society. The regulations fail to differentiate between professionalization and teaching evaluation. There is no national system for imposing a minimum level of teaching standards throughout the country. And as local governments remain in charge of interpreting and implementing the new rules, the control of teachers’ placements might simply pass to other, equally undemocratic powers. The reform of Article 67 of the Constitution, which encourages parents’ organizations to help pay for local schools, clearly opens the door to the kind of cheap privatization schemes that have served to ruin the U.S. education system.

At the same time, government and media treatment of the teachers has been brusque, dismissive, and at times abusive. On September 15 police violently removed strikers from Mexico City’s main square before the president’s Independence Day celebrations. And public discussion of the strike has disintegrated into ugly right-wing name-calling. Like the student radicals of an earlier age, teachers are regularly described as “ungrateful”, “lacking in respect,” even “savages” and “barbarians.” Beyond these immediate reforms and their political fallout, the overall standard of public education in Mexico is appalling (Mexico ranks last of the OECD countries in terms of education) and this is primarily due to chronic and sustained government underfunding. Evaluating teachers will not reverse inequality or generate social mobility.

Your homework for this week: READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE. HERE.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 14 October 2013 8:10 pm

    I will do my homework and read the entire article, but I want to know your opinions: do you think this strike after all this time is the right way to continue protesting? What do you say to charges that the CNTE leadership is on the take? And don’t you think this approach makes the children the victims? Which is not to say I don’t agree with yoru basic premises about education in Mexico and fears of privatization, etc. etc. etc.

    • roberb7 permalink
      15 October 2013 8:38 am

      Esther, it was the leader of the SNTE that was jailed for embezzlement. (I have trouble keeping the two unions straight, too.) I didn’t know until I read this article that it was CNTE that institutionalized the practice of inheriting jobs.

      Rich, muchas gracias for posting this article. I’ll be helping to spread it around.

  2. chris sims permalink
    16 October 2013 10:09 am

    The “teachers” are only concerned about losing their plazas and are afraid they won’t be able to pass an evaluation test,The “Maestra” taught them well,too bad they aren’t as concerned about their student’s welfare as they are about their own.

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