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Cablegate: Mexican President Calls for Overhaul Of

VZCZCXRO0096
PP RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHM RUEHHO RUEHJO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHPOD
RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #1150/01 1072214
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 162214Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1473
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHXI/LABOR COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 001150

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR A/S SHANNON
STATE FOR WHA/MEX, WHA/EPSC, EB/IFD/OMA
STATE FOR EB/ESC MCMANUS AND IZZO
USDOC FOR 4320/ITA/MAC/WH/ONAFTA/GERI WORD
TREASURY FOR IA (RACHEL JARPE, ANNA JEWEL)
NSC FOR RICHARD MILES, DAN FISK

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ELAB MX
SUBJECT: MEXICAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR OVERHAUL OF
EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

REF: A. MEXICO 1133
B. MEXICO 1049
C. 06 MEXICO 5854

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Mexican President Felipe Calderon and teacher union
leader Elba Esther Gordillo Morales this week agreed to work
together to pass much-needed educational reform. Specific
reform proposals have not been announced, only general calls
to improve ways to evaluate teachers, teacher training, and
school-related infrastructure. Local press reports say the
government and the teachers union will meet to discuss what
issues will be included in the reform later this year. While
local commentators all agree on the need for educational
reform, some have expressed concern that Gordillo has too
much influence over Calderon for a comprehensive reform to be
approved. End Summary.

----------------------------------
Step Forward on Educational Reform
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) While at the launch of this year's National
Evaluation of Academic Achievement in Schools (ENLACE) on
April 14, President Felipe Calderon called for measures to
improve the performance of Mexico's lackluster educational
system. Calderon had met with the Secretary of Education,
Josefina Vazquez, and the President the National Teachers
Union (SNTE), Elba Esther Gordillo Morales, earlier this
month to encourage them to reach agreement on educational
reform (Ref B). A member of Calderon's "social cabinet" told
Econoffs after this meeting took place that the politically
powerful Gordillo "was well disposed to cooperate" in this
effort -- a message that the union leader has worked to
reinforce via public statements. Indeed, on April 14
Gordillo remarked that an overhaul of the educational system
was needed to avoid perpetuating "conditions of inequality
and exclusion." Though many would vehemently disagree with
this assertion, Gordillo added that the SNTE is not an
obstacle to reform, but rather a key actor in the
"educational transformation."

3. (U) Specific reform proposals have not been announced,
only general calls to improve ways to evaluate teachers,
teacher training, and school-related infrastructure. Local
press reports say that the SEP, Social Development
Secretariat, and SNTE will meet to discuss what issues will

SIPDIS
be included in the reform after the ENLACE test results are
released later this year. (Note: ENLACE is a survey that
evaluates the performance of all students and schools in
Mexico. End Note.)

4. (SBU) While local commentators all agree on the need for
educational reform, some have expressed concern that Gordillo
has too much influence over Calderon (given her support for
him during the July 2006 presidential elections) for a
sufficiently comprehensive reform to be approved. The press
has latched onto how much Calderon praises Gordillo in
public, a treatment he does not afford to other union leaders
or members of his cabinet. Some even have expressed concern
that the reform will only end up strengthening the teachers
union -- something Post believes the Calderon administration
will not allow.

---------------------------------------
SEP and SNTE Conclude Wage Negotiations
---------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Gordillo said publicly that the SNTE's wage
negotiations with the SEP were concluded to her satisfaction.
According to a SEP press release, the teachers received a
4.5% salary hike, a 0.3% salary "supplement," and a 1%
increase in benefits. Moreover, the government agreed to

MEXICO 00001150 002 OF 002


channel 550 million pesos for teacher development and 350
million pesos for training programs. The wage hike is in
line with what the administration has negotiated with other
unions, but other parts of the package were quite generous --
likely an attempt by the government to woo the union before
pressing ahead with educational reform.

-------
Comment
-------

6. (SBU) Calderon's and Gordillo's public statements this
week potentially mark the first serious move toward
educational reform since Calderon took office in December
2006. The importance of improving educational attainment in
Mexico cannot be understated. While the country has made
strides in improving its educational system over the past
decade, children still spend comparatively few years in
formal education, and do not profit from it as much as they
should, so that poor educational attainment is reproduced
from one generation to the next, and with it poverty. This
is particularly true in rural, indigenous communities.
Although SNTE has yet to fully accept this point, educators
need to be held accountable for their performance in the
classroom, and teaching methods need to be improved and made
more flexible to adapt to students' backgrounds and learning
needs. Moreover, inefficiencies and misallocation of
spending need to be addressed, as does the powerful grip of
the SNTE -- something that is unlikely to be fixed in this
round of reforms.

7. (SBU) While getting the SNTE's buy-in on educational
reform will undoubtedly water down whatever proposal the
government puts forward, Gordillo's stamp of approval is a
necessary (but insufficient) condition for passing reforms.
The SNTE is too powerful for educational reform to be
approved without its support. As an academic who has studied
attempted educational reform in Mexico for over 25 years told
Econoffs, any attempt to directly work against the SNTE would
be "political suicide," and reform can only be achieved
through a pact between the SNTE and the government (Ref C).
Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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