The struggle for free, public and critical education is at the heart of the mass movement which is growing in Mexico against the neo-liberal policies of President Enrique Pena Nieto. Hundreds of thousands have been on the streets in Michoacan, Chiepas, Oaxaca and in particular Guerrero.

The government is introducing a law, ostensibly to improve education in the country, which includes the usual toolkit of neo-liberal 'reform' measures, teacher evaluation through standardised tests, centralised curricula geared towards employment and devolution of budgets to schools. For the teachers and their thousands of supporters this is simply a precursor to the privatisation of education - as it has been in so many countries of the wolrd, not least Mexico's northern neighbour, the US, where many of these ideas originate.

What marks out the current struggle in Guerrero as well as in other parts of Mexico, is that the teachers together with education scholars have put forward their own alternative plan for improving education in the country. This is supported by leaders of indigenous communities who said in a statement that 'an evaluation system (must) go beyond the one currently contained in the reform law to scrutinize teacher training institutions, educational authorities, elected representatives and the presidency itself'.

According to an excellent explaining the background to the ongoing struggle in Mexico, 'The union-backed reform would create a broad teacher evaluation system, guarantee jobs for college graduates, respect indigenous rights, take socio-economic realities into account, safeguard against budget cuts, and ban school fees. The alternative law declares that “education is a human right and of anyone who receives it, according to (federal) constitutional Article 3.'

The alternative proposals have been blocked by the governing PRI party. Many schools have been shut for weeks because of the protests and teachers and their supporters have used many innovative methods to publicise their cause - such as occupying radio stations in order to read out messages, blocking highways and occupying government buildings. Earlier this month there was a teachers' demonstration in the capital Mexico city which included many other groups including the  youth pro-democracy organisation - set up to fight media bias in the disputed election of Nieto. They carried banners reading 'we are all Guerrero.'

As Kent Peterson in the cited above puts it - the struggle in Guerrero and Mexico is part of a global struggle: 'Inevitably, as in Mexico today, the education issue quickly exposes a host of inequalities and injustices,  and becomes a key arena for challenging prevailing government spending priorities, governmental decision-making processes, tax policies and worker-management relations. Fundamental matters of race, class and gender are intertwined in contemporary struggles. And in one important sense, like the factories of the 20th century, the classroom is ground zero for class struggle in the 21st century.'