Statement by the California Federation of Teachers Supporting Teachers in Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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The California Federation of Teachers, which represents over 120,000 educational employees in California, is extremely concerned about the recent killings and attacks on teachers in Mexico. As U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto gather today for a special summit, we call on Nieto to immediately halt these attacks, and to guarantee teachers and education workers in Mexico their human, civil, political and labor rights. In the last several weeks teachers have been subjected to extreme violations of these rights, including:

  • On Sunday, June 19, at least four teachers and students protesting the government's corporate education reform program were shot and killed in peaceful demonstrations in Oaxaca, and dozens more wounded, by Federal police.
  • The three top elected officers of Oaxaca's teachers union, Seccion 22 of the National Union of Education Workers – Ruben Nuñez, Francisco Villalobos and Aciel Sibaja – have been illegally imprisoned in the Federal penitentiary a thousand miles from Oaxaca.
  • Over three thousand teachers have been fired for striking, and thousands more for refusing to administer standardized tests for students, or to take standardized tests for teachers, that are part of the Federal government's education reform.
  • Mexico's Secretary of Public Education, Aurelio Nuño Mayer, has threatened to close the teacher training schools (the “normal” schools) that have developed generations of teachers, especially from poor families. An attack on the Ayotzinapa school in Guerrero two years ago led to the disappearance, and possible murder, of 43 students.

As educators, we are very concerned about the corporate direction of Mexico's Federal education reform program, as we are about similar programs in the United States. We oppose the privatization of public education, and of the corporate-directed programs for standardized testing of students and teachers. We are especially opposed to the use of those tests as the instruments for mass firings, as has been suggested in both countries.
There is no possible excuse for imposing these reforms at gunpoint, for violently suppressing the rights of teachers to advocate for themselves and their students, and for firing and jailing teachers when they do so. We call for an immediate halt to the extensive support in money and training received by the Mexican police and military from the United States, given the use of such heavy arms and anti-personnel tactics in the recent killings in Oaxaca, and the illegal imprisonment of teacher union leaders. We ask California's Congressional delegation to hold hearings to investigate the recent events in Oaxaca and the grave violations of the rights of teachers, students and the broader community in Mexico.

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The California Federation of Teachers is the statewide affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, and represents more than 120,000 educational employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education.

Media contact

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