Teachers striking against neoliberal educational reforms mandated by the government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is spreading across the southern half of the country.
Though the strike was initially concentrated in the state of Oaxaca, where teachers have met with violent and sometimes lethal repression, the spark they ignited has grown into a regional blaze.
The latest from teleSUR English:
A highway blockade in support of Mexico’s striking teachers is increasingly gaining popular support in the capital of the southern state of Chiapas, La Jornada reported on Wednesday.
The protest in the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez is being organized as a popular assembly and has remained active for 15 days, gathering up to 3,500 demonstrators in support of the radical CNTE teachers union.
Teachers and parents from impoverished neighborhoods, medical students, indigenous associations and grassroots movements have also joined the blockade as part of nationwide protests against President Enrique Peña Nieto’s neoliberal education reform.
Popular support of the teachers cause in Mexico has been concentrated in the southern states of Oaxaca, Guerrero, Tabasco and Chiapas, a region historically subject to violence and poverty but also rich in social struggle.
Meanwhile CNTE leaders are holding negotiating talks over the controversial reform with the government at the Interior Ministry headquarters in Mexico City this Wednesday.
So what’s it all about?
It’s the usual thing starring the usual suspects: Standardized testing created by corporateers working in league with the national government to suppress organized labor and am impose an educational system designed to turn our obedient workers rather than independent-minded citizens.
From Spring Hill College history Historian A. S. Dillingham, writing in Jacobin:
The education reform is better understood as an attack on labor. Much like the discourse of recent education reform movements in the United States, the Mexican reformers invoke notions of “accountability” and “quality” instruction.
But the reform itself contains numerous measures aimed at undermining the power of teachers’ unions including measures that weaken the union’s control of the hiring process at normal schools (which they historically controlled), eliminate teachers’ ability to pass down a position to their children, make it easier to fire teachers who miss work, and limit the number of union positions paid by the state.
These measures are all directly aimed at undermining the union’s power, but the central point of contention has been the evaluation of teachers through state-administered standardized tests.