The Mexican teachers union SNTE took part in a ceremony this week, together with the education secretary, to welcome the education 'reform' package, which is being forced through with such violence by the government of Pena Nieto. The measures will see English elevated as the second language while the scores of indigenous languages are ignored, moreover they will bring punitive teacher evaluations, an increase in privatisation and no end to the underfunding of schools for the poor. 

SNTE is the massive Mexican teachers union, with a long history of government collusion by its leadership (Elba Esther Gordillo, once President for Life of SNTE is presently in jail for corruption). The dissident teachers are organised in a faction of the union, known as CNTE. SNTE leader, Juan Diaz, used the opportunity of the government ceremony to criticise the teachers in CNTE who are resisting the reform, saying no-one has the right to 'make education a field of political and ideological battle.' Of course this is precisely what the government has done by seeking to ensure that Mexican education serves the interests of capital, rather than those of struggling and indigenous communities in ways developed by CNTE and its supporters. 

The movement of the dissident teachers of Mexico against the corporate reform of education is turning into a 'popular revolt', according to one commentator. Teachers have been joined by thousands of parents and community members, who have been as determined in their resistance as the teachers themselves. In parts of Mexico transport links have been blocked by protesters, preventing the movement of goods around and out of the country and disrupting the profits of the corporations. For example in the southern state of Michoacan, the protesters have blocked trains and arterial roads for ten days, preventing goods, particularly autoparts being transported to other parts of Mexico and to the US.

The protests have continued and spread, despite the repression meted out by security forces, including the massacre of 12 protesters in Oaxaca in the middle of June. Such violence has only stiffened the resistance, as the teachers struggle against education reforms has become symbolic of the fight to stop the privatisation of public goods and the dominance of bosses' organisations like Mexicanos Primero over education as well as land and resources. 

The battle is not confined to the southern states. There is also a big movement in the capital, where teachers describe the conditions in which they have to work, particularly in the low income areas. One teacher said that they had to ask parents to bring buckets of water to her school which had no water supply and that both teachers and parents had to supply the most basic teaching resources such as pens, pencils, chalk and even furniture.

In an excellent opinion piece, Luis Hernandes Navarro quotes a teacher from the Paris Commune in 1871: 'the task of teachers . . . is to give the people the intellectual means to rebel' saying that this is precisely the mission that the fighters in CNTE have taken on.

To read more about the history of this struggle go here.