[JURIST] The Mexican Senate [official website, in Spanish] on Tuesday approved an education reform bill [press release, in Spanish] that will require periodic evaluations for teachers. The law, approved by a margin of 102-22, aims to raise the quality of the nation's education. Under the new law, teachers are required to take an evaluation at least every four years. If they fail the evaluation three times, they will be terminated without any liability on part of the educational authority or agency. The new law is part of reforms that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto [official website, in Spanish; BBC profile] is undertaking to boost the nation's economy. Teachers and students have protested against the approval of the new bill. The lower house [official website, in Spanish] had approved [Reuters report] the bill on Sunday.
In February Nieto signed [JURIST report] additional education reform into law. While the president himself wrote [statement] simply that the "major purpose of this reform is to make education a force to transform Mexico," many suggested [Reuters op-ed] that the legislation intends to curb alleged abuses by the 1.5 million-member National Union of Education Workers (NUEW) [union website, in Spanish], which is the largest labor syndicate in Latin America and is said to control the country's education system. A day after Nieto signed the education reforms, controversial NUEW leader Elba Esther Gordillo was arrested [NYT report] for allegations that she embezzled approximately $200 million for personal expenses that include California houses, plastic surgery and artwork. Known as "La Maestra," Gordillo is considered a figurehead in the country's political scene and a powerful kingmaker throughout Mexico. In September then-president-elect Nieto announced [JURIST report] a proposal for similar constitutional reforms that would increase government transparency. He also announced plans to propose a national anti-corruption commission.