9/4/15 US News
It looked like a normal first day of school at Patria Libre elementary. Uniformed kids sporting brand-new backpacks with their favorite cartoon characters — Dora the Explorer, Hello Kitty, the “Frozen” heroines — reunited with classmates and sang the national anthem.
But that’s far from normal in Oaxaca, a Mexican state where teachers’ strikes and protests cost the average student 50 days out of the 200-day academic calendar last year, according to federal education officials.
Year after year, protesting teachers have blocked highways and cut off oil refineries. Residents of the capital have fled rocks and tear gas from clashes with police. And the city’s colonial plaza, one of the most picturesque in Mexico, is often filled with tent camps of demonstrators instead of tourists.
“Every year there has been a strike. … I’ve seen my kids falling behind, and we’ve had to support them at home so they can learn,” said Claudia Rodriguez Sosa, a 33-year-old mother of three students from pre- to high school.