Mexican bishops lambaste country’s teachers’ union

Students walk together during recess at Miguel Hidalgo elementary school in Tijuana, Mexico, Sept. 13.

CNS PHOTO | DAVID MAUNG

Students walk together during recess at Miguel Hidalgo elementary school in Tijuana, Mexico, Sept. 13.

September 24, 2012

Mexico’s Catholic bishops called for an overhaul of the country’s education system, saying in a pastoral letter that the powerful national teachers’ union and its leader put politics and other issues ahead of teaching children.

The letter, written by Bishop Alfonso Cortes of Cuernavaca and released Sept. 12, said the practices of the 1.4 million-member National Education Workers Union led to corruption and misuse of resources.

The letter said the union’s actions were “seriously contaminating the task of educating.”

The letter comes at a controversial time, in which the union – an institution with anti-clerical tradition and self-proclaimed champion of the secular state – has come under attack for its role in the Mexican political system and willingness to put teachers on the public payroll to work for non-educational purposes.

And it touches on topics plaguing present-day Mexico, including the fact that millions of youths are unable to study or work and thus are vulnerable to recruitment by drug cartels.

The document questioned the quality of what was being taught in Mexico’s schools, especially for not imparting critical thinking skills.

The letter’s publication comes as the Church has called for the introduction of religious curriculum in a school system constitutionally mandated to be secular.