As part of their ongoing struggle against the education 'reforms' of the Mexican government, teachers in the southern province of Oaxaca occupied three airports at the weekend, closing down flights for six hours. They also occupied petrol stations and blocked highways.

The so-called Alliance for Quality Education (ACE) is a corporate reform package being forced through by the Nieto government in the teeth of determined and continual from thousands of teachers. The measures would amongst other things see curricula being standardised and taught in English and Spanish, even though millions of Mexicans do not have either language as their mother tongue but rather one of 68 officially registered indigenous languages.

Teachers in Oaxaca have a long tradition of fighting for democratic education. Far from being content with what is on offer they have fought to build a different kind of education. Their plan which they call the Plan for the Transformation of Education in Oaxaca (PTEO) is based on an acceptance of diversity: 'Education must be grounded in the context of each of our towns', as one of the leaders of the PTEO project put it, a teacher 'has to see the cultural richness in these communities, in the people who live there'. Therefore while accepting that some knowledge is universal, the cultural context is important and education projects should be decided by the school collective, teachers, students, parents and the local community, rather than elites at the top of a global NGO, a government or a corporate lobby group. Moreover evaluation of teachers should be done through interaction with colleagues and with parents. Teachers and students would keep portfolios which would then be looked at and analysed by teachers and families. Instead of focusing on competition, school communities would concentrate on collaboration. Above all both teacher-training and school would focus on the development of critical thinking. A teacher, according to the same PTEO leader should be 'a source of social change, someone who has roots in a community'.

The mass media and the government seek to cast the teachers' struggle as a desire to carry on corrupt practices. In fact the official union SNTE has a disgraceful history of corruption (its leader is now in jail having finally fallen out with the ruling powers), but it is precisely teachers like those in Oaxaca who are fighting corruption and for public education for all children.

Meanwhile the 43 young student teachers abducted last September from nearby Guerrero province have still not been found and the struggle goes on to expose the government's complicity and find the young people.