New Publication | Building on Early Success: Next Steps in U.S.-Mexico Educational Cooperation

By Angela Robertson and Duncan Wood

USA and MexicoLaunched in 2014, the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research (FOBESII) seeks to “expand opportunities for educational exchanges, scientific research partnerships, and cross-border innovation to help both countries develop a 21st century workforce for both our mutual economic prosperity and sustainable social development.” It aims to promote binational cooperation in higher education and research, especially regarding important areas for innovation in the United States and Mexico, by promoting programs for student mobility, academic exchange, research, and innovation in areas of common interest to contribute to the competitiveness of the region.

Cultural and educational exchanges help to create connections between the people and institutions of the United States and Mexico via exchange programs, scholarships, grants, and joint research.  Increasing educational exchanges and strengthening workforce development and innovation, particularly in STEM areas, will allow the United States and Mexico, and North America as a whole, to compete in global markets. Thus, FOBESII has the potential to build a more prosperous future for both the United States and Mexico.

Nonetheless, this short paper argues that, while FOBESII has done much to expand educational exchanges, increase joint research, and promote innovation, it has yet to achieve its stated goals and continues to face serious challenges. We argue that to overcome these challenges, future initiatives must focus on advancing private sector engagement, workforce development, and improving public communication and outreach. FOBESII continues to be a relevant and important initiative, but it is in urgent need of restructuring and redirection if it is to make a significant contribution to bilateral affairs and regional competitiveness.

Read the paper…

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Tucson’s Mexican Studies Program Was a Victim of ‘Racial Animus,’ Judge Says via@nytimes

8/23/2017 New York Times By Maggie Astor 

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Arizona school officials were motivated by racial animus when they acted to shut down a Mexican-American studies program in Tucson’s public schools, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

In a 42-page ruling, Judge A. Wallace Tashima concluded that the elimination of the program in 2012, on the premise that it violated a state statute enacted two years earlier, infringed on students’ First and 14th Amendment rights. The court has not yet scheduled a hearing on what to do next.

“The court is convinced that decisions regarding the MAS program were motivated by a desire to advance a political agenda by capitalizing on race-based fears,” wrote Judge Tashima, of the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

The ruling focuses primarily on the actions of Tom Horne and John Huppenthal, two former Arizona schools superintendents who concluded that the Mexican-American studies program for middle and high schools, sometimes referred to as La Raza, violated a statute known as A.R.S. 15-112. Passed in 2010, it bans public and charter schools in Arizona from offering courses that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group” or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”

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‘The help never lasts’: why has Mexico’s education revolution failed?

8/15/2017 The Guardian 

Education was meant to be president Enrique Peña Nieto’s flagship policy. Yet salaries are still being paid to ‘ghost teachers’ who never enter a classroom, while children lack the tools – and even the food – they need to learn.

It’s almost four in the afternoon, and a quarter of the fifth-grade pupils at Ángel Albino Corzo primary school in Buena Vista haven’t eaten all day. The children are fidgety and distracted as their teacher explains decimals on the white board.

They are counting down the minutes until break time, when they will be given a small portion of beans with tortillas – for some, the only meal they will eat today (Mexico’s schooling is split into two distinct shifts; these children study from 1.30-6pm).

“How can they learn if they’ve not eaten and we haven’t got the right tools?” their teacher, Juan Carlos, asks later. He would like to use interactive online worksheets, but the computer lab is closed and there’s no internet. “There’s only so much we can do.”

Buena Vista is a bleak hillside community constructed on industrial wasteland in the sprawling State of Mexico, which wraps around the capital, Mexico City. Crime rates are so high here that in winter months, the school closes early as many children walk home alone. Police do not patrol the neighbourhood.

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Arizona-Mexico Trade Comes in Education, Too

5/26/2017 Arizona Public Media

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Flickr/S. Friedberg

Jose Reyes Sanchez was driving through a farm about an hour outside of Mexico City as he listed the crops: pears, peaches and plums. Reyes, an engineering professor at the Autonomous University of Chapingo, then pointed to one of his favorite parts of the farm: a field of oats with a rotating 24-sprinkler irrigation machine dousing it with hundreds of gallons of water per minute.

“My students just took their final exam,” Reyes said. “And they had to get very wet because they had to measure the amount of water that each sprinkler emits.”

For years, Reyes has been taking undergraduate seniors on a field trip to California, Nevada and Arizona to learn more about water efficiency, with stops at companies such as the Tempe-based Salt River Project and the University of Arizona in Tucson.

And every year, one or two of Reyes’ students return to the University of Arizona to pursue graduate degrees from the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

Last year, they were part of the 81 graduate students from Mexico who enrolled at Arizona colleges with support from a Mexican government-funded scholarship aimed at boosting the ranks of scientists in their country. (That’s out of a combined graduate student enrollment of more than 20,000 at the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.)

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Mexico’s lost generation of young girls robbed of innocence and education

5/2/2017 The Guardian

girlHundreds of thousands of young girls across Mexico are being driven into relationships and marriages with older men, denying them a childhood and an education, new research reveals.

Of the 320,000-plus Mexican girls between the ages of 12 and 17 who are cohabiting, nearly 70% are with a partner who is at least 11 years their senior, according to a report commissioned by the Ford Foundation.

The data represents part of a wider trend across Latin America, the only region in the world where child marriage is increasing rather than in decline.

Researchers found that 83% of married girls had left school, with the number rising to 92% among those living informally with a man. In contrast, just 15% of Mexican girls not in such relationships dropped out of school.

The findings, due to be published next month by a Mexico City-based research group, also show that 25,000 girls aged between 12 and 14 are living in “early unions”.

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Where Machismo Is Entrenched, Focus Moves to the Trenches

4/23/2017 New York Times

machismoMEXICO CITY — Machismo has long been widespread in Mexican society. Male entitlement — reflected in telenovelas, movies, work settings, families and romantic relationships — has been tolerated, even celebrated.

But times are changing for the Mexican macho man, or “machista.”

Soaring crime rates against women in recent years, and a strengthening women’s rights movement, have forced Mexicans to begin addressing machismo and the harm it does through sexism, misogyny and violence.

The effort got a boost on International Women’s Day last month, when President Enrique Peña Nieto called on Mexico “to launch a frontal assault against all expressions of machismo.” He urged the eradication of “a deeply rooted machista culture,” one that “ultimately and truly generates violence against women.”

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After the Storm in U.S.-Mexico Relations

3/31/2017 The Wilson Quarterly

Articles by Duncan Wood, Christopher Wilson, Andrew Selee, Eric L. Olson, Earl Anthony Wayne & Arturo Sarukhan

The relationship between Mexico and the United States is facing its most severe test in decades. Although a new tone and new ideas are needed, the economic, political, and security fundamentals matter more than ever.

Browse the full Winter 2017 issue of Wilson Quarterly here…

Leveraging the U.S.-Mexico Relationship to Strengthen Our Economies, by Christopher Wilson

A New Migration Agenda Between the United States and Mexico, by Andrew Selee

The Merida Initiative and Shared Responsibility in U.S.-Mexico Security Relations, by Eric L. Olson

U.S.-Mexico Energy and Climate Collaboration, by Duncan Wood

Toward a North American Foreign Policy Footprint, by Earl Anthony Wayne & Arturo Sarukhan