Thursday, August 29, 2013

Here's a plan to resolve the violent teacher standoff at the Zocalo in Mexico City

I agree with the indigenous teachers from the poverty-stricken south of Mexico that they should not be systematically replaced with richer, whiter native-Spanish-speakers who received better educations, nor should they be replaced for political reasons.

My plan for effectively utilizing all teachers, originally designed for the US, would be perfect for Mexico. See bottom of this post.

Reforma Avenue, Mexico City, Aug. 22, 2013 Photo by Marco Ugarte/AP

In Mexico, teachers fight tooth and nail against reforms familiar to those north of the border
Members of the National Workers of Education Coordinator (CNTE, for its initials in Spanish) protest violently against the educational reforms in the street across from Congress...
By Stephanie McCrummen
Washington Post
August 28, 2013

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican government is trying to overhaul the nation’s public schools in a way that might ring familiar in the United States: changing how teachers are hired, fired and evaluated.

But if American teachers unions were resistant to the idea, some in Mexico are openly hostile.

Hundreds of ski-mask-wearing, rock-throwing, stick-wielding teachers have smashed windows and set fire to the offices of the major political party in the southern state of Guerrero, and thousands are flooding Mexico City, blocking national TV networks, subway lines and, on Wednesday, swarming the roads around Los Pinos, the official residence of the president.

In what has become a fairly common event here, at least 8,000 teachers have set up camp under a sea of nylon tents in Mexico City’s central Zocalo square, where Gumaro Cruz Lopez, an elementary school director from the southern state of Oaxaca, explained his fear that the changes will turn kids into globalized robots at the expense of indigenous culture, free thought and possibly homemade tacos.

“They want to create one prototype of individual for the sole service of the global socioeconomic system,” said Lopez, 51. “They say private companies like Coke, Pepsi and Bimbo” — one of the world’s largest baking companies —“can help to better our schools, but soon they’ll start bringing all their sodas and snacks and all the little pastries of Bimbo!”

The angry invoking of trans­national soda and snack-food companies has to do with the fact that Coca-Cola has built model schools in Mexico, as corporate giants such as Microsoft have gotten involved in U.S. education reform. Union leaders have turned that into a symbol for their fear that some distant authority will soon be telling them how and what to teach.

Political analysts say the fierce resistance also has to do with the fact that the changes directly challenge long-standing union power over jobs.

The overhaul that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is pursuing keeps with ideas championed in recent years by former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee and others who argue that raising teacher standards is the key to fixing failing schools.

In February, Peña Nieto signed into law the framework for his plan, which would shift the power to hire, fire and evaluate teachers to the federal government and away from Mexico’s main teachers union, which has been accused of rampant corruption and presiding over a system of awarding jobs in ways that have little to do with merit.

A new system of periodic teacher evaluations is intended to identify incompetent teachers, reward good ones and set professional standards, with the hope that Mexican students will become more globally competitive.

“In principle, the reforms have a positive spirit,” said Miguel Szekely, director of the Institute for Education Innovation. “They are going in the right direction, but implementing them will take time.”

Additional legislation is required to spell out how the system will work. And that is what the massive teacher protests here have stalled, along with traffic.

The emphasis on union corruption — almost universally acknowledged as a huge problem — has to some extent obscured other concerns of the teachers who traveled to Mexico City from some of the poorest states in the southern part of the country. The union that holds sway there is not the one directly targeted by the new education law, but a smaller one that controls jobs and state education budgets and is among the most radical in Mexico.

Rosalia Alonzo, a director of an elementary school in Oaxaca, said any new measures should recognize the disparities between the poorest schools of the south and wealthier ones elsewhere.

“A lot of schools don’t have power or technology, or even books,” she said. “The people who come up with these reforms, their kids go to Harvard. They don’t know what it’s like for us.”

Pilar Palma, a teacher at the protest, said she suspects that evaluations will be used unfairly. “I agree I should be evaluated,” she said. “But give me the tools and the ways to get better.”

Lopez, the elementary school director, noted that many students and teachers in his area speak native languages in addition to Spanish. He worries that such particularities will be obliterated by standards handed down from Mexico City.

“Those languages are close to our own customs, to our own environment,” Lopez said. “They want to make our children useful as labor for the future of the private sector — to teach them only to work and obey and not to reflect, not to liberate their minds.”

It was early afternoon Tuesday, and thousands of teachers were heading from the plaza to protest a national TV network they said has been unfairly describing them as a nuisance. The station broadcast interviews with Mexico City residents fed up with the road blockages, people who described the teachers as “dirty” and “those Indians,” a reference to their native background. “We are going to block Televisa!” Lopez said, undeterred. “We will be here until the authorities answer us.” (END)

Romualdo Gutierrez, Oaxaca

Maura Larkin's Plan--A great teacher for every child without firing anyone

This research indicates that the average teacher salary in Mexico is $20,000. I imagine the number is significantly lower in southern Mexico, but this figure will serve to demonstrate my point. My plan (see Idea Tournament article below) would offer a pathway to much higher earnings for many teachers--and students!--while allowing weaker teachers to keep their jobs and have an opportunity to become master teachers.

Here's what the chart in the article below would look like for four classrooms and one extra salary (in thousands) in Mexico:

Currently: $20 + $20 + $20 + $20 + $20 = $100

New plan: $32 + $17 + $17 + $17 + $17 = $100 (minus exorbitant cost of education vendors)

All Kids Can Have Great Teachers (Without Firing Any Teachers)
By: Maura Larkins
Voice of San Diego
September 7, 2012

No one really knows what’s going on in individual public school classrooms. Observations by principals tend to be fleeting and few. We don’t need to fire anybody, but we do need to use highly-skilled teachers and ordinary teachers where they can do the optimal good.

The truth is that the critical moments in learning don’t happen continuously five hours a day. They add up to at most a couple of hours each day, and probably much less. The rest of the time an ordinary teacher can handle lesson reinforcement, computer activities, art projects, silent reading, etc.

The best teachers should be able to rise far above average teachers on the salary scale — and they should have far more responsibility. In my plan, each classroom would have a full-time regular teacher. Several classrooms would share a master teacher, who would be responsible for student progress, teaching lessons part-time and guiding the regular teacher. Gifted regular teachers would be eligible to become master teachers. Instead of bringing in vendors selling the latest gimmick for tens of thousands of dollars, master teachers would do all necessary training.

Here’s the comparison for four classrooms and one extra salary (in thousands):

Currently: $60 + $60 + $60 + $60 + $60 = $300

New plan: $100 + $50 + $50 + $50 + $50 = $300 (minus exorbitant cost of education vendors)

If we add more money, we could have more master teachers. Meaningful evaluations of teachers would have to be instituted. Current evaluation systems are worse than useless. My plan would call for frequent observations by both master and regular teachers, who would observe classrooms in other districts to keep school politics at bay. The observations would have a beneficial side effect: they would allow teachers to pick up new ideas.

See more of my plan in the yellow column on the right of this page.

Profesores se manifestaron este viernes afuera de la Secretaría de Gobernación en protesta por las leyes secundarias de la reforma educativa (Cuartoscuro).

El diálogo entre legisladores y docentes de la CNTE, en un punto crítico
Las negociaciones estuvieron cerca de romperse debido a que el PRI señaló que la evaluación docente podría votarse la próxima semana
Por Mauricio Torres
CNN Mexico
30 de agosto de 2013

El encuentro de este viernes entre legisladores y docentes terminó sin avances
Los líderes de la CNTE se molestaron por declaraciones del coordinador de los diputados priistas
Beltrones dijo que es posible que se vote la Ley del Servicio Profesional Docente el martes
Los legisladores y los docentes se reunirán de nuevo este sábado

"A nosotros nos parece altamente preocupante que por un lado tengamos esta mesa acá, que se hablé de diálogo, y por la otra, en otro carril, estén declarando en la Junta de Coordinación Política de la Cámara de Diputados que a más tardar el próximo martes se presentará la Ley del Servicio Profesional Docente. Este nos parece que es un doble juego."
--Francisco Bravo, líder de la Sección 9 de la CNTE

CIUDAD DE MÉXICO (CNNMéxico) — El diálogo entre legisladores y la Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (CNTE) estuvo cerca de romperse, debido a la molestia de los docentes por los señalamientos del Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) en el sentido de que la ley que contempla la evaluación magisterial podría votarse en los próximos días.

El encuentro de este viernes —el cuarto de la semana— entró en receso cuando tenía una hora de haber comenzado, luego de que los líderes de la CNTE expresaran su molestia por las declaraciones del coordinador de los diputados priistas, Manlio Fabio Beltrones, que por la mañana dijo que es posible votar la iniciativa de Ley del Servicio Profesional Docente el martes, aun cuando la CNTE pide suspender el proceso.

Los dirigentes dejaron la reunión privada para analizar si se mantendrían en las negociaciones o no, informó la diputada Nelly Vargas, del partido de izquierda Movimiento Ciudadano, que en las mesas ha exigido atender las propuestas de la CNTE.

"Los compañeros de la CNTE están declarando un receso en la mesa bicameral que tenemos montada. (...) La percepción que tenemos es que a los compañeros los están engañando", dijo Vargas a medios.

Alrededor de 30 minutos después, los líderes de la CNTE volvieron al encuentro argumentando que seguían con "disposición" a dialogar y plantear sus demandas. Más tarde, al término de la reunión, informaron que sus exigencias inmediatas son que los legisladores garanticen que la iniciativa de ley no se votará próximamente y que sus planteamientos en la materia serán escuchados.

La respuesta a esos puntos tendrá que producirse en el encuentro programado para las 16:00 horas (local) de este sábado, según los dirigentes Rubén Nuñez, de la Sección 22 (Oaxaca); Juan José Ortega, de la 18 (Michoacán), y Francisco Bravo, de la 9 (Distrito Federal).

"El gran desencuentro, el problema que hoy se planteó fue el carácter de la mesa. A nosotros nos parece altamente preocupante que por un lado tengamos esta mesa acá, que se hablé de diálogo, y por la otra, en otro carril, estén declarando en la Junta de Coordinación Política de la Cámara de Diputados que a más tardar el próximo martes se presentará la Ley del Servicio Profesional Docente. Este nos parece que es un doble juego", dijo Bravo a medios.

En otro encuentro con la prensa, los diputados priistas que acudieron a la reunión señalaron que ellos no pueden tomar esa decisión y que plantearán la solicitud a los líderes parlamentarios de la Cámara baja.

"No hay en este momento un día señalado. Lo que sí queda claro es que tenemos una gran comunicación, acuerdos entre las principales fuerzas políticas (...) de que es necesario que concluya el proceso legislativo de la reforma educativa", dijo el priista Arnoldo Ochoa.

La del Servicio Profesional Docente es la única de tres leyes reglamentarias que falta por aprobar en el Congreso para que la reforma pueda funcionar.

El documento causa polémica entre los docentes porque establece que aquellos que no aprueben evaluaciones obligatorias serán cesados, lo que la CNTE considera lesivo de los derechos laborales del magisterio.

Los diputados priistas dijeron este viernes que la CNTE apenas presentó propuestas concretas de redacción, aunque sólo de forma verbal. Según esa versión, los profesores pidieron cambios al artículo 75 de la legislación para especificar en qué casos un maestro será sujeto de sanciones.

El dirigente magisterial Rubén Núñez tachó de "mentira" esa declaración y aseguró que entregaron a los legisladores un escrito con sus planteamientos.

"Si el gobierno ignora nuestra posición, no hace caso, será su responsabilidad", dijo Bravo.

Los líderes de la CNTE han advertido que realizarán más movilizaciones en la capital mexicana durante los próximos días, como lo han hecho desde hace más de una semana: bloqueando sedes legislativas, televisoras, edificios gubernamentales y algunas de las principales avenidas de la ciudad. Hasta ahora, no han detallado qué acciones tomarán.

Este viernes, los docentes mantuvieron un plantón de ocho horas frente a la Secretaría de Gobernación (Segob), en demanda de que su titular y funcionarios de las secretarías de Educación Pública (SEP) y de Hacienda y Crédito Público (SHCP) se sumen a las negociaciones con legisladores.

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