Mexico’s decrepit public education system is heading for a historic and long overdue shake-up. If President Enrique Peña Nieto is successful with a bold new reform effort and bid to break the powerful national teachers union, he could engineer the biggest societal transformation in Mexico since seven decades of one-party rule ended in 2000.
The 1.5 million-member teachers union has a long and well-deserved reputation for corruption. Leading it is Elba Ester Gordillo, 68, who has a penchant for luxury living, expensive cars, multiple face-lifts and Neiman Marcus shopping sprees. Gordillo was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of embezzling $156 million from union funds.
After 25 years of her education leadership, here’s where Mexico’s education system stands: In standardized measurements among all 34 member nations of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Mexican 15-year-olds rank dead last in literacy, dead last in math, dead last in science.