News, features, and commentary from the biggest city in the Americas, Mexico City.

Feliz Día del Maestro! Happy Teachers’ Day!

A Festive Day for a Protest! (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

May 15, Eje Central: A Festive Day for a Protest! (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

By Fritz Schtickelmeyer

May 15th is the day we set aside in Mexico to honor our teachers.

Those who work hard to teach, build character, and help inspire young people, absolutely deserve a day of honor. Thank you! (I tend to think most teachers fall into this camp.)

And then there’s the smaller group in this country that has recently burned down buildings, blockaded federal highways, and fomented anarchy. They do not deserve our respect.

So, on this Día del Maestro (Day of the Teacher), I thought I’d head to the Centro Histórico, to check up on a certain teachers’ union that shows how much it cares for kids by holding their education hostage in its battle with the government.

Yes, the CNTE, the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de Educación is a real piece of work.

The number one thing they’re teaching is how to agitate and disrupt.

As you may recall, the head of the nation’s largest teachers’ union, the SNTE (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Educación), a vile creature who goes by the name of Elba Esther Gordillo, was recently arrested on charges of corruption. (Our story.)

Well, while the SNTE gets on with its affairs, as its leader sits behind bars, the CNTE has decided to go all militant.

Sorry, but I can't take these punks seriously. (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

Sorry, but I can’t take these clowns seriously. (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

Their radicalized members have blockaded federal highways in Guerrero, set buildings on fire in the Guerrero state capital of Chilpancingo, and they’re been up to even more mischief in the neighboring state of Michoacán, where they’ve been reportedly involved in hijacking vehicles, hostage-taking, and other criminal activity.

The worst thing? They’re getting away with it.

This group has set up a plantón — a camp, if you will — in Mexico City’s Zócalo, all to further their agenda of stopping progress in the nation’s educational system. And they’re threatening to escalate their actions.

Today, arriving in the Zócalo at high noon, I saw a fairly calm scene, with most protesters huddled in their tents, visiting with friends.

Lucha Libre, anyone? (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

Lucha Libre, anyone? (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

Fortunately, some of the wise leaders had the good sense to install a wrestling ring next to their tents, because God forbid, they have nothing else to do with their time — you know, like actually teach. At least this way, they can practice some good old-fashioned lucha libre-style Mexican wrestling when they’re bored.

Oh, I almost forgot — they’re doing this for the niños. Hahaha. CNTE leaders should get into stand-up comedy.

See, the CNTE opposes reforms to Mexico’s public education system that will bring it into the 21st Century. These are much-needed reforms, and I give the President and Congress credit for moving forward with this.

But for the radicalized CNTE, progress is a dirty word. They seem to live about 100 years in the past, and do not want anything to change — except to extract more money from the government. They oppose accountability, and they oppose anything that might take away their privileges.

Well too bad.

It takes a lot of gall to defend the status quo in a public educational system where union corruption is rampant, where teachers do not have to be qualified to teach, and the union chiefs buy and sell teaching jobs — not to mention all the union money that seems to go directly into their pockets of union leaders.

This is not only despicable, it would be illegal in any advanced society. Mexico is better than this, it’s a country on the move, with a positive future. The citizens of this country deserve better.

It’s time for the federal government to say no más to the CNTE and affiliated radicals, and to use whatever tools it has available — police, military, courts — to hold these trouble-makers to account.

I watched these guys today, marching through the center of the city. Some even proudly displayed Communist hammer and sickle banners and flags. (Good old communism … the ideology that strips you of personal freedom and makes everyone equally poor.)

It was a frightening display, as many of the marchers scared the public with their outward hostility, and threatening chants.

The Communists proudly march in defense of taking away people's freedoms. (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

When the Communists arrive, now it’s a party! (Photo: Fritz Schtickelmeyer)

I stayed long enough to see first-hand that these people do not represent civilized society. Peaceful protest is a valid thing in a free and open country; threatening the public is not.

Needless to say, I wasn’t going to hang around to listen to their leaders drone on in the Zócalo, boring people to death with their Marxist revolutionary nonsense.

Unlike them, I have a life. I have productive things to do with my time. (And if you want Marxism, move to Cuba or Venezuela, where other than the food shortages, media censorship, and jailing of government critics, it’s working just great!)

No, the sooner educational reforms come into being, the better off we all will be.

On this Day of the Teacher, it’s the least we owe to our students and hard-working teachers, who find themselves caught in a dysfunctional, unaccountable system.

Feliz Día del Maestro! Happy Teachers’ Day!

About Fritz Schtickelmeyer

A veteran journalist, he's reported from across the globe. For a brief time, was a high school teacher in Minnesota.

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2013 by in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , .
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