In Mexico, AMLO seeks to expel merit from schools

HOW QUICKLY winds change. The school reforms signed in 2013 by Enrique Peña Nieto, then Mexico’s president, were to be the only popular legacy of an unpopular man. No longer. On May 8th the senate scrapped them. In mere months a reform deemed vital to reduce poverty lost many of its most ardent defenders. Even senators from Mr Peña’s cowed Institutional Revolutionary Party assented to the death of a law they recently favoured. So did the national teachers’ union, the STNE, despite having backed the reforms six years ago.

That is a testament to the power of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mr Peña’s populist successor, who has long opposed the reforms. It is also bad news for the millions of pupils who might have benefited, had the reforms been allowed to continue. The “new” education measures passed in their place represent a return to old ways.

Mr Peña’s project was an attempt to curb overmighty teachers’ unions. It revoked their power to hire teachers, giving it to an independent body that picked applicants through examinations. Teachers had been accustomed to jobs for life, and the right to sell their posts or bequeath them to their children upon retirement. Suddenly, they were subject to performance evaluations, and those who went on strike risked losing their jobs. And the federal government assumed responsibility for...

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