Mexican education campaign reaches out to Mexican-Americans and migrants for help

LatinaLista — The United States isn’t the only country that has problems with its teachers’ unions. In Mexico, the national teachers’ union — The National Syndicate of Educational Workers — has garnered so much power over the years that a new national campaign to improve the country’s educational policies is calling the union out on its most grievous fault — complicity between the union and the government.

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“We don’t call it corruption,” Mónica Tapia Álvarez, executive director of Alternativas y Capacidades, the umbrella organization for the educational campaign known as the Citizen Coalition for Education, told Latina Lista via phone.

“We call it complicity because we see that the union has become involved in the whole management of the education business and policy. For example, because the union controls every aspect of education in Mexico, it’s only the most loyal teachers to the union who get promoted or get a (favorable) assignment,” Tapia Álvarez said.

Though it would appear that Tapia Álvarez’s campaign is against the union, she is quick to point out that is not the case. She feels strongly that the union serves a useful purpose for its members but over time has overstepped its authority to the point that students, parents and even teachers no longer have a voice in Mexico’s educational system.

As a result, the educational system is deteriorating in the country. A recent report by the international OECD, OECD Economic Survey: Mexico 2011, found that while Mexico has made some progress, the country’s educational system still suffers from shortcomings:

There are important concerns about the quality of the training, selection and allocation of teachers to schools; the professional careers of teachers; and the quality of support for schools and teachers from school directors, supervisors and others who lead and manage the system.

Areas that Tapia Álvarez asserts are influenced by the intervention of the union’s leadership in federal education policy. Yet, change cannot happen unless people start asking for it and are made aware of it.

For that reason, the Citizen Coalition for Education launched a new web site and is busy gathering citizen support via social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube), as well as, going into the neighborhoods of Mexico to help organize groups of concerned citizens who will demand a better educational system and accountability from all parties.

But the coalition isn’t stopping there. They are bringing their message to the United States too.

“We want to engage Mexican migrants and Mexican-Americans in this noble cause because they have gained influence in Mexican politics and have become good actors in lobbying for changes in policy,” Tapia Álvarez said.

Saying that political leaders in Mexico do pay attention to Mexican Americans and migrants in the U.S., Tapia Álvarez believes that the voices of the Mexican-American community in the United States can help with the call for educational reform and wants Latinos to help support the campaign by interacting with it via social media and signing the campaign’s petitions.

“From outside can bring a stronger message,” said Tapia Álvarez. “Mexico is a civil society maturing and wants to do better.”

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