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Mexico's education minister said Tuesday that educational reforms will take place with or without the support of teachers union leader Elba Esther Gordillo. Still, Emilio Chuayffet said he hoped she and teachers would back the reforms, as the reforms will need educators' support to be effective.
Meanwhile, columnists expressed elation that the country's three major parties were working together on something of utmost importance to the nation.
Columnist Rubén Aguilar says the reform being backed by the three major political parties shows a newfound maturity by top politicians. He said it is about time for the state to retake control of the educational system from the teachers union.
Baja California columnist Antonio Magaña wrote: "Citizens are finding, to their astonishment, that politicians are capable of reasoning, discussing, modifying ... initiatives to confront national problems."
Columnist Eduardo Ruiz-Healy says the educational reform agreed to by leaders of the PRI, the PAN and PRD could augur a much-needed change in mentality in Mexico.
Aguilar noted that that the three main components of the reforms are:
• Creating the Professional Teachers System (Sistema Profesional de los Docentes), that, among other things, would put a brake on the sale or inheritance of teaching positions.
• Giving autonomy to the National Institute for Educational Evaluation, which would conduct mandatory teacher evaluations and reward teachers based on merit, not based on union power.
• Creating the Educational Operations and Management System (Sistema de Operación y Gestión Educativa), which would provide a more reliable database of the number of schools, students and teachers so that better decisions can be made on how to allocate resources. The current database lends itself to many irregularities.
President Enrique Peña Nieto sent an education reform bill to Congress that seeks an independent evaluation of teachers. He seeks to create an autonomous National Institute for Educational Evaluation through constitutional change. He also hopes to spur on a government program for complete school days. Many Mexican schools run on split session, with one set of students attending in the morning and another in the evening. Some even have three sessions. "The base for transforming Mexico is education," the president said.
Teachers union leader Elba Esther Gordillo, with whom Peña Nieto had good relations when he was governor of Mexico state, did not attend Monday's event, held at the National Museum of Anthropology.
Education Minister Emilio Chuayffet, also a former Mexico state governor, likened his ministry to an inefficient and costly chain of islands that must be restructured so that that it can direct education policy and establish goals and objectives in addition to providing the conditions for the proper evaluation of teachers. Story in Frontera (PDF). Story, Los Angeles Times.
Columnist Sergio Sarmiento wrote that he understands how Peña Nieto wants to wrest educational decision-making away from the powerful teachers union, but wondered whether the approach outlined Monday was the right one. He said Mexico's politicians continue to clog up the Constitution with secondary law. He said the reforms also do not deal with many other educational problems. His column, in Frontera (PDF).