Educational reform and the Fourth Transformation

Teachers have been camped out in front of Congress in protest of the Education Reform.

By: Luis Hernández Navarro

There will be no deep social transformation in Mexico on the margins of the teaching profession. Even less against them. There will be no Fourth Transformation (4T) or a new Mexican school if it is intended to cage the teachers in an exceptional labor regime. Nor if it is intended to maintain the neoliberal educational project, even if it is made up.

With the educational reform of Enrique Peña Nieto, the State broke, unilaterally, the pact that it had for decades with education workers. The reform substantially transformed the nature of teaching. He put the teachers, overnight, into the realm of insecurity and job insecurity. Teaching ceased being a State profession to become a semi-liberal profession, whose performance is subject to the discretion of the authority. On the way, he practically decreed the extinction of normalism [1].

The new education reform is one of the essential aspects of the Pact for Mexico reform. This has been recognized by the PRI, the PAN and educational specialists from the business world. Therefore, they voted enthusiastically in favor of the ruling on the reform in the joint session of the Constitutional Points Commissions and Education in the Chamber of Deputies.

As Pablo Hiriart wrote, not suspicious of sympathizing with Obradorismo: “The educational reform approved yesterday in committees in the Chamber of Deputies is practically the same as the one promulgated in February 2013 by President Peña Nieto, after the Pact for Mexico between all the political parties.”

It is false that the rejection of the democratic teachers of the National Coordination of Education Workers (Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, CNTE) of the deputies’ opinion is for the control of hiring (jobs). The CNTE has pointed out again and again, at every forum and negotiation in which they have participated, that they do not want the union to control hiring. Despite this, politicians and educational experts linked to the business world reiterate the slander.

In fact, as researcher Aldo Muñoz recalls, “neither before nor after the federalization of 1992 was the National Committee of the SNTE given 50 percent of the lowest positions stipulated in Article 62 of the Federal Law of Workers in Service of the State.”

What the democratic teachers demand is not to be confined to any exceptional labor regimen that treats the labor rights of teachers as second-class rights. It considers unacceptable that income, promotion and recognition are administrative issues under government control, outside of any bilateral control. Not in the third article, nor in any transitory one. Nor does it admit that, although it is recognized in a transitory article that, except for admission, promotion and recognition, labor relations are regulated by section B of the constitutional article 123. For an elementary reason: for purposes of higher law, a transitory law is not above the mother law.

Formally, the education reform of the 4T declares that it seeks to strengthen normalism. It does not do that. The text says: “The state will strengthen public institutions of teacher training, especially normal schools, in the terms provided by law.” The deputies butted horns over the original presidential proposal that establishes the priority attention to these institutions.

Really strengthening normalism implies several things not contemplated in the dictum: giving positions to graduates of the public normales after finishing their studies; that graduates of these institutions have primacy to occupy a job over those coming from other educational centers; and, academic freedom and real autonomy.

Normalism is a State profession, emerged from the obligation of the latter to provide education. It is the way of training the professionals who are required to comply with the constitutional requirements in the matter. The normalistas are evaluated by the educational authorities when they enter the normal, while they are in it and while obtaining their degree and their professional license. The curricula they study are set by the State.

It is absurd that, instead of continuing the route that was followed successfully for many years, they don’t obtain their placement and immediately start working when they receive their professional ID. And that they must compete for a job with professionals who do not have the studies to teach children and young people. It is as if the cadets of the Heroic Military College, upon finishing their studies, instead of entering the service directly with a degree, had to take a new exam, competing with professionals who did not pursue a military career.

The placement of new normalistas in the public system is not administered by the union. It is not the SNTE that gives them a position. The educational authority is the one that assigns them directly as graduates because their services are needed and because they demonstrated, throughout their entire career, that they are qualified to be teachers.

With the new reform [2] it is impossible to establish any agreement between teachers and the State, or that a new Mexican school becomes a reality. To the contrary, as happened in the past six years, in which the legislators of the PRI assumed that “everything was under control” and faced intermittent waves of teacher discontent, what we will see is a permanent disagreement between education workers and the 4T.

[1] Normalism here refers to a system of teachers colleges (normales, in Spanish), such as Ayotzinapa, that educate teachers.

[2] Several days ago, AMLO issued a memorandum to the appropriate government agencies to stop implementing the application of the Education Reform. There is opposition from several sources and the final outcome of this memorandum is not clear.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



One Comment on “Educational reform and the Fourth Transformation

  1. Pingback: CHIAPAS SUPPORT COMMITTEE UPDATE | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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