Monday, June 24, 2024

4 opposition-governed states refuse to distribute new textbooks

The controversy over Mexico’s new school textbooks continues, with four opposition state governors saying they will block the textbooks’ distribution in schools.

The governors of Chihuahua (PAN), Coahuila (PRI), Jalisco (MC) and Yucatán (PAN) have all committed not to distribute the textbooks, while the governor of Guanajuato (PAN) said his state will complement the teaching with supplementary materials.

Maru Campos
Chihuahua governor Maru Campos become the first state leader to publicly reject the new textbooks (Wikimedia Commons)

Chihuahua Governor Maru Campos was the first to reject the books last week, dismissing them as “garbage.”

On Monday, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro said his state would not distribute the books “as long as there is no judicial resolution” of a case before the Supreme Court about whether production of the books should be halted, although he emphasized that the decision was made on administrative, not ideological grounds.

Coahuila Education Minister Francisco Saracho Navarro and Yucatán Education Minister Libario Vidal Aguilar also blamed the legal case for their states’ refusal to distribute the books. Saracho Navarro added that Coahuila is undertaking consultations with experts, teachers and parents to review and supplement the books’ contents.

State officials in Guanajuato and PRI-controlled Durango expressed concerns about the books, but said they would not block their distribution, in part due to concerns that students in remote areas may not have access to any other educational materials.

new textbooks for Mexican public schools
Some states have expressed concerns about the new textbooks but plan to distribute them anyway due to a lack of viable alternatives for students in more remote schools. (SEP)

The textbooks, produced by the Education Ministry (SEP), have been criticized for their allegedly ideological content, as well as various factual and grammatical errors and a decrease in content in core subjects such as mathematics and Spanish.

A Mexico City administrative court ordered the SEP to suspend printing of the books in May in response to an injunction filed by the National Union of Parents (UNPF), one of Mexico’s oldest conservative organizations, initially formed to combat the secularization of education mandated by the Constitution of 1917. 

The SEP has lodged an appeal against the decision, which was referred to the Supreme Court.

Last week, Education Minister Leticia Ramírez insisted that the SEP was never “officially notified” of the lower court’s decision. She added that the outcome of the Supreme Court case may be inconsequential, as the books are now already in print and arriving at regional warehouses for distribution.

SEP HQ
The Education Ministry (SEP), which produced the textbooks, has denied that they contain any ideological content. (Wikimedia)

However, on Monday, Chamber of Deputies party coordinators from the Va Por México political opposition coalition announced that they intend to file an act of unconstitutionality against the books in the Supreme Court in the coming days.

They called on parents and citizens to reject the books, which they claim “seek to indoctrinate” Mexican children with the leftist ideology of Morena, the ruling party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. A group of parents led by PRI federal deputy Cynthia Iliana López Castro blocked the SEP headquarters in protest and called for similar collective actions on August 21.

When questioned about the issue at his Tuesday morning press conference, President López Obrador stood by the textbooks, dismissing the opposition’s actions as sectarian politicking.

“[The opposition] talk about how the books are going to inject the virus of communism. That is grotesque, it is absurd,” AMLO said, adding that the Executive has the constitutional right to design and distribute educational materials.

President López Obrador called the outcry over the new textbooks “absurd.” (lopezobrador.org.mx)

“We are going to see what people think; they are going to express themselves, demonstrate, if they agree or disagree,” he said.

Article 113 of Mexico’s General Education Law establishes that the federal educational authority has the exclusive authority to “create, publish, update and distribute” free textbooks and other educational materials to the federative entities “through processes that allow the participation of the various social sectors involved in education.”

 With reports from El Universal, La Jornada and Zeta Tijuana

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