The Education Secretariat began dismissal proceedings this week against 4,253 teachers in four states after they failed to show up for work during a strike called by the CNTE teachers’ union.
Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño told a news conference this week that the teachers being dismissed have 20 days to respond to the dismissal order.
Despite threats of a widespread walkout in protest against the federal government’s education reforms, most schools were operating yesterday, said Nuño. In Oaxaca, 99.5% were open while in Chiapas, where the teachers’ union has been claiming that nearly all schools have beeen closed, 97% were open.
Schools that were open in Michoacán totaled 85% on Monday; by the end of the week the figure had risen to 97%. In Guerrero, 100% of schools were operating.
The Education Secretariat has said there are 26,000 teachers ready to take the places of those who are fired.
“It would probably be a difficult task,” said Nuño in an interview with Milenio Television, “but not impossible; it would be something uprecedented [but] I believe the state must show that no one is indispensable in an institutional system; they are necessary, of course, but no one is indispensable.”
But the head of the Oaxaca union local challenged authorities to try. “We are the education professionals,” declared Rúben Núñez, “those who have always defended education and we’re not going to allow others” to staff the schools.
He said he would not deal with the Education Secretary and repeated an earlier demand for a meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Núñez vowed that teachers protesting in Mexico City would remain. They initially set up camp on Avenida Bucareli but left after they were asked to move by Federal Police, and relocated in the Plaza Santo Domingo in front of the Education Secretariat offices.
However, security forces showed up there at 3:00am today and ordered the protesters to leave. Union officials, claiming aggression by police, said they were forced to board buses brought in to take them away. They said police warned that there were outstanding orders for the detention of many of the teachers present and threatened them with arrest if they didn’t leave peacefully.
Today, Núñez told a press conference that the teachers have chosen to leave Mexico City and return to their home states, but they will continue their fight.
He charged that last night’s removal of teachers from Santo Domingo was an act of represssion in which police “violated all the human rights of the education workers.”
The teachers have said they will stay on strike indefinitely until authorities agree to negotiate a list of demands. Among them: repeal of education reforms, presentation alive of the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa-Iguala, reinstatement of teachers who have been fired and suspension of the evaluation process.
In Michocán on Thursday, the latter was successfully disrupted by CNTE members who prevented the evaluation testing of most of the 5,295 teachers who had been scheduled to attend. Just 14% participated.