In Reversal, Teacher Evaluation Plan to Continue in Mexico


Education Minister Emilio Chuayffet said the Mexican government will continue with teacher evaluations in the country after suspending them last month due to protests amid midterm elections.

A judge in the country had previously ruled against the suspension of the evaluations, which are largely made up of a skills test. Advocacy groups hailed the decision, hoping to push for an overhaul of the education sector.

"We're not stopping the education reform, nor willing to cancel evaluations," Chuayffet told reporters.

The skills evaluations were suspended by the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto in the end of May as a result of a teachers union going on strike over the evaluations. The union blocked highways as they boycotted the midterm elections.

The evaluations had been implemented in 2013 as part of an effort to improve the education sector by basing teaching careers on merit, writes Juan Montes for The Wall Street Journal.

A federal judge upheld the injunction filed by the education policy group Mexicans First, claiming the suspension of the evaluations was unconstitutional. According to the group, the decision was in violation of the jurisdiction of the National Institute of Education, which conducts the evaluations. The skills test was set to take place in September.

"This is a victory of citizens against the government," Claudio X. González, head of Mexicans First, said in an interview. "It also shows that there's a healthy separation of powers in Mexico."

According to analysts, the decision to continue the evaluations may have been made in an effort to create conditions to allow for a smooth election over the weekend. While many in the country approve the move, some are still concerned that government is not fully committed to its implementation.

"I have doubts that the government is willing to fully implement the reform and pay the political cost," said Marco Fernández, an education expert at the Monterrey Institute of Technology's school of government. "The decision to suspend evaluations was not appropriate for a responsible government."

With the overhaul, meant to increase competitiveness in the country and the standard of living over time, teachers could be fired if they do not participate in the skills test or if they fail it three times. In addition, practices such as inheriting a teaching position or buying and selling the posts would be banned.

"Poorly trained teachers are one of the key reasons of Mexico's educational challenges," said Mr. Fernández, the education expert. "For years, teachers' promotions had depended here more on the loyalty and subordination to the teachers union than on merit, and that corruption has badly damaged excellency in Mexico."

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