How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses

October 21, 2013

Wired, 10/15/2013

education - children poverty - EcuadorJosé Urbina López Primary School sits next to a dump just across the US border in Mexico. The school serves residents of Matamoros, a dusty, sunbaked city of 489,000 that is a flash point in the war on drugs. There are regular shoot-outs, and it’s not uncommon for locals to find bodies scattered in the street in the morning. To get to the school, students walk along a white dirt road that parallels a fetid canal. On a recent morning there was a 1940s-era tractor, a decaying boat in a ditch, and a herd of goats nibbling gray strands of grass. A cinder-block barrier separates the school from a wasteland—the far end of which is a mound of trash that grew so big, it was finally closed down. On most days, a rotten smell drifts through the cement-walled classrooms. Some people here call the school un lugar de castigo—“a place of punishment.”

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Mexico Teacher’s Union Shows Political Clout

October 15, 2013

school-crossingThe Wall Street Journal, 10/13/2013

Tens of thousands of teachers are scheduled to return to school on Monday after their nearly-two-month strike shut out almost 1.3 million children in Oaxaca, setting the stage for violent clashes with parents who pledged to block their return.

During the teachers’ absence, parents, with help from teachers from a nonstriking union, opened dozens of schools in the poor southern state of Oaxaca, including one here at Mitla, a town that draws many tourists to its imposing pre-Columbian ruins.

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The PRD Reform Proposal, Mexican Economy and Teachers’ protest – Weekly News Summary: August 23

August 23, 2013

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

This week, the debate on the Energy reform continued and the PRD presented its reform proposal. Last Monday the PRD presented its own energy reform proposal, which did not include constitutional changes or a greater role for private companies. The Proposal seeks to loosen the government’s stranglehold over revenues from Pemex, where approximately 70 percent of profits go to fund the federal budget. The main speaker during the presentation was Cuauhtémoc Cardenas who said Pemex should be more independent by removing Cabinet secretaries and the oil workers union from the Pemex board seats they now hold. In the same regard, this week in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Pemex’s CEO Emilio Lozoya announced the plans to set up a new company to explore and produce shale gas and deep-water oil in the U.S. as part of an ambitious strategy to turn around years of falling production. “The geology is similar and we can benefit from numerous areas of collaboration with international oil companies”, Lozoya said to the newspaper.

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Mexico, Where Teachers Take Hostages

May 13, 2013

education - school childrenThe Wall Street Journal, 5/12/2013

Mexican students studying to be teachers released a hostage on Wednesday—in the municipality of Nahuatzen—due to concerns about his health. But they continue to hold five others. The students are supported by the Michoacán State Teachers Organization, which warned that the remaining captives, who are state policemen, would be freed only when a demand for 1,200 new teaching jobs is met.

The Mexican standoff, now a week old, is only the latest example of a teacher-union rebellion against recent amendments to the Mexican constitution aimed at improving public education. Institutional Revolutionary Party President Enrique Peña Nieto has made it a priority to fix the broken public-education system. But eager reformers are often tested by politically powerful interests in their first year in office. The teachers believe they can make him back down.

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Teachers Are Rebelling Against the Government of Mexico

April 29, 2013

education - classroomABC News/Univision, 4/26/13

A Mexican teachers’ strike that began two months ago turned violent this week, with rebel “maestros” looting, burning and partially destroying the offices of Mexico’s three main political parties in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state. The looting started after a peaceful march in which teachers had gone to the Guerrero State Assembly to protest a local law, that reinforces the Mexican President’s plans for education reform.

President Enrique Peña Nieto wants to improve Mexico’s weak education system by obliging teachers in Guerrero and elsewhere to take standardized tests in order to keep their jobs. His national education law would also put the government in charge of hiring teachers, a process that is currently controlled by teachers unions.

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Teachers, Students & Protests – Weekly News Summary: April 26

April 26, 2013

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

The much lauded Pacto por México was put to the test following the release of an audio recording in which PRI officials are heard discussing how to benefit electorally from a government anti-poverty program. The Los Angeles Times called it “the most serious political crisis of [Peña Nieto’s] young government.” Plans to announce a new reform to Mexico’s banks were postponed as Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong convened an emergency meeting with party leaders.

A small group of masked individuals seized the rectory building inside UNAM’s campus in Mexico City, protesting the expulsion weeks earlier of five students from one of the university’s preparatory high schools who were accused of vandalism. Meanwhile, members of the teachers’ union in Guerrero attacked the local offices of the four major political parties, setting the office of the ruling party, the PRI, on fire. The states of Oaxaca and Michoacán also experienced unrest.

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Striking teachers attack offices of major political parties in southern Mexico state

April 25, 2013

protest -- stroke -- resistanceThe Washington Post, 4/24/13

Striking teachers in Mexico’s Guerrero state attacked the offices of four political parties and a building of the state’s education department Wednesday after the legislature approved an education reform without meeting their demands.

Dozens of teachers carrying sticks and stones smashed windows, spray-painted insults at President Enrique Pena Nieto on walls and destroyed computers and furniture. They set fire to the state headquarters of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and another building. No injuries were reported as the teachers, some masked, ran wild after a protest march in the state capital of Chilpancingo.

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