As the school year begins in Mexico, dissident teachers in the country’s southern states show no signs of letting up their protests against the government’s planned educational reforms.
The teachers have been on strike since May because of concerns over government plans to institute test-based teacher evaluations.
Leaders of the dissident teachers’ union, National Coordinator of Education Workers, or CNTE, say they plan to continue to man blockades they have setup in the southern states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero and Michoacán, as well as in parts of the capital city, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Those highway blockades have virtually shut down parts of the country.
On Monday, in a speech marking the first day of school, President Enrique Peña Nieto said his administration would stop all negotiations with the CTNE until they returned to work.
“There won’t be any more dialogue if we don’t first guarantee that boys and girls can receive education in classrooms that today are closed,” he said.
According to Education Minister Aurelio Nuño, most schools in Michoacán, Guerrero and Mexico City opened this week without a hitch, but about half of schools in Oaxaca, where the activist union is the strongest, remained closed, and virtually no schools in Chiapas have opened, reports The Wall Street Journal.
Elsewhere in the country, teachers have begun to take the new tests, and of the 139,000 educators who have sat for the exam more than 85 percent passed, David Calderón, director of the education advocacy group Mexicanos Primero, told The Wall Street Journal.
Members of CNTE, however, contend that the tests ignore the difficulties facing teachers in the south, who educate a largely rural, poor and indigenous population.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.