Concerns In Mexico As Public Education Laws Change

Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 1:40pm
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2019 - 8:44am
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Office of the President of Mexico
Then-Education Secretary Esteban Moctezuma (from left), President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Secretary of State Olga Sánchez Cordero awarding teachers in Mexico City in 2019.

MEXICO CITY — The 2013 education reform in Mexico that limited the power of unions and established an evaluation system for teachers is disappearing. The president says changes will empower educators, but critics worry about the lack of clarity and possible violations of the constitution.

In May, the current Mexican administration started the suspension of the education reform by ending teacher evaluations. Now, Congress is about to ratify a set of laws that would allow teacher unions to designate jobs.  

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador stated that the changes will give teachers the respect they deserve. But critics say the new laws wrongfully empower unions and weaken the education system.

Jennifer O’Donoghue is the director of Mexicanos Primero, a nonprofit advocating for education rights. She says some aspects of the changes are positive, like recognizing the right of students to have a say, but the lack of transparency could lead to corruption.

The expert says the problem goes beyond education but is a bigger question about democracy.      

“How concerning it is to have legislators who publicly say that they’re doing it because the president told them to, and the president who clearly is willing to violate the constitution,” O'Donoghue said.

The activist said the new laws will allow the Mexican education system to become more inequitable.

“Fewer than half of young people finish the equivalent of high school in the United States,” O'Donoghue said.

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