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jerezano

May 28, 2007, 6:42 AM

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Mexican Education System

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Hello,

On the thread "Why do Foreigners leave México?" TxclalaClaudia posted the following extract:

>>....I taught in both elem. and university levels while here but I learned more about what was going on not from my teaching experience, but rather from my kids' experiences. I saw enough to make me want to put my kids in an Atlanta Public school system before even a private one here (we are from Atlanta and schools there rank low compared to rest of USA). Unqualified teachers abound here. THAT is scary and that is what will send us back (until the kids are finished with school anyhow).

Does anybody else have experience with the Educational system here in México? Particularly from the point of view of Parents or the kids themselves?

As an observer only of public Primaria and Secondaria and Telesecondaria and Freshman levels of University, I came to the conclusion long ago that the system stinks. Not only because of Claludia's main point that so many teachers are NOT qualified, but because of the methods employed, even by the good teachers.

At the freshman University level I discovered that none of the students could think independently. In the United States students entering the junior high school level grades 6-9 are introduced to learning how to think for themselves so that by the time they graduate from high school they are pretty mature.

Here in México the students in primaria, secondaria, and even yet in prepatoria (high school level) are considered as hollow vessels into which the teachers pour knowledge. And that knowledge can never be challenged, even if it be wrong.

Too, students are instructed to make their work pretty, the quality be damned.

As a result at the university level, where independent thinking is required, the kids (and they are still kids regardless of their age) are completely lost and spend a full year being oriented to the real world.

Any parents out there? We must have some with educational experience. Is Claudia right? Even the private schools are bad? If you have kids are you teaching them at home using the materials from many State systems, such as California's?

Claudia should be thanked for posting her comments. Youngsters with children in the school years should be aware, or perhaps beware, what can happen to those kids here in México.

Adiós. jerezano.



Georgia


May 28, 2007, 7:31 AM

Post #2 of 35 (3916 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Mexican Education System

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Your observations about teaching methodology here is no different from other Latin American countries. Six of my children attended either elementary or high school in South America and l found that rote learning was the norm. Now, unlike a lot of American parents, I believe that rote learning is valuable but only as part of the student's overall education. There is a lot of value to it, if you use it as a base to hang other more critical learning skills on. Unfortunately, the learning seems to stop there: they do not tend to progress beyond memorizing often unrelated facts. There is no attempt made to analyze, predict outcomes, or see the big picture.

I had a funny experience in graduate school. My teacher, a former classmate of mine from Bolivia, was teaching a course in Latin American history which I took. Let me tell you, that is a LOT of history. I was never one to memorize dates, but I really had a good grasp of the causes and effects of events throughout Latin America. Exam day arrived. It was totally data: what events happened on such and such a date, and so on. I frankly wasn't sure of even ONE answer. So, I spent my three hours telling him about the ebb and flow of the history with approximate dates and how one event led to another.

I got an A in the course ... and we both learned a lesson.


roni_smith


May 28, 2007, 9:41 AM

Post #3 of 35 (3888 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Mexican Education System

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As a fifth grader in Brasil, we passed our history course in the following manner.

The book had short chapters - as we memorized each one, we went to the school director's office and repeated it to him verbatim. If we missed even one word, we had to study more and do it again. When we recited it perfectly, we moved on to the next short chapter.
------
Planning for Mexico Move Blog



Georgia


May 28, 2007, 11:04 AM

Post #4 of 35 (3872 views)

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Re: [roni_smith] Mexican Education System

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Yup. Sounds about right.


TlxcalaClaudia

May 28, 2007, 6:33 PM

Post #5 of 35 (3822 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Mexican Education System

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Jerezano remarked students here could be about 2 grade levels behind if returning to USA.

Keen observation Jerezano....I tested my Mexican, "bilingual" third graders...in most areas they were 2 grades behind (I used Houghton Mifflin tests)...on other areas, they couldn't even rank (i.e. phonics and reading comprehension). My students tend to read English words in Spanish (i.e. cleem-bing instead of climbing)...and the directors claim this is reading. Ok, fine....pronunciation stinks, let's look into comprehension. If they get THAT, then I will buy it that they are reading English. Last August, they did NOT comprehend any of the reading material. Now they do...and it was painstaking to get them there. They never considered inferring, describing characters, making conclusions and so on until I came along. THe most they did was draw pictures of vocabulary words and rarely read the class readers. LOTS of copy work from the board too....yeppers, lots. By now, many still aren't even average, but I feel good they get SOME of the comprehension. I do have about 5 on the same level as native speakers back home....this pleases me to no end.


And for more of my plight on education here....check out my blog where I bring up a sad, sad situation in my personal experience while allowing my kids to attend a school in Mexico. ADVICE TO ALL: NEVER voice an opinion, unless you want your kid's grade to suffer. True story. Thank God I can teach my own kid. www.felipeandclaudine.blogspot.com

comment on another poster's view of rote learning (Georgia was it you??)...I have to agree...there IS a place for it and I use it in phonics and spelling.
Claudine


(This post was edited by TlxcalaClaudia on May 28, 2007, 6:36 PM)


jennifer rose

May 28, 2007, 8:49 PM

Post #6 of 35 (3796 views)

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Re: [TlxcalaClaudia] Mexican Education System

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Al right, perhaps some Mexican schools may not be delivering when it comes to teaching grade-schoolers how to read in English. But how does it fare in math and science?


Cyndie

May 29, 2007, 6:16 AM

Post #7 of 35 (3773 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Mexican Education System

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We've been sending our daughter, now 9, to Mexican private schools in Morelia since she was three. Actually, she starts each year in New Hampshire, goes 2 months, then November through March in Morelia, and back to New Hampshire April-June. This year she arrived in her New Hampshire school the day state testing began. I haven't seen the results but her teacher told me she was surprised at how well she did (I think this means she did on-par with her classmates). She was particularly impressed, she said, with the math score.

We've never used a school in Mexico where English was spoken and she's had to be bilingual from the get-go. I remember being panicked that she was not able to read English at all when we were heading north, April of her first grade year. She could read Spanish, however. It was a long car ride though and by the time we hit the New Hampshire border she could read the English books her teacher had sent to Mexico with us. Reading is a skill that transfers between languages. Her pronunciation as she read was a little funky, but it straightened right out. She said, "I say the word first in my head (using Spanish vowel sounds, no doubt) and then if it doesn't sound right I guess what word it must be and say it that way..."

Some years ago we met parents from a school in Healdsburg, California who were visiting Morelia with their children who were graduating from 8th grade. They were not Mexican-Americans, just parents who had voluntarily put their kids in the all-Spanish language 1st-3rd grade program at their local public school (really intended for the Spanish-speaking population). Their kids learned reading and all their beginning math skills and other subjects in Spanish. On the playground and at home they spoke English, but not in the classroom. All their texts were in Spanish. These kids were among the most outstanding students on all achievement tests once they got into the upper grades -- in the lower grades their scores were below average since the tests were in English. But for some reason knowing two languages paid off for them when they got to the higher grades. Hearing the success of these kids has helped us not worry about our daughter's progress.

She attends a Montessori school in Morelia and has a tiny class. This gives her a lot of individual attention which is helpful since it can be a little rocky switching schools twice each year. Her school in New Hampshire is a good public school with about 25 kids per class. She is in 4th grade now.

Most of her American teachers have been very supportive of our choice to educate her this way. Her second grade teacher was somewhat annoyed, however, and didn't appreciate that our daughter was not where the class was on certain subjects (I didn't blame her). So we hired a tutor (a high school kid) who worked with our daughter after school and she was caught up in everything by the end of the year.

We do have five other children -- all either in college or graduated -- so we have seen five different learning styles and abilities and know that what we're giving this daughter in terms of language skills and cross-cultural understanding is invaluable.

I agree that they do do a lot of rote memorization in her Mexican school, but they also cover very sophisticated science, history, and civic materials. There's more homework in her Mexican school also -- lots more, and on weekends too. And the parents definitely have a say. I believe it's because the school is small and there are about a million private schools competing in Morelia.
Cyndie


Georgia


May 29, 2007, 6:52 AM

Post #8 of 35 (3760 views)

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Re: [AIM] Mexican Education System

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One of my daughters, who is bilingual, has brought up my grandchildren to be bilingual - "Mommy talk" (Spanish) and "Daddy talk" (English) is what the kids used to call it. So, during the US summer vacation they head off to Ecuador where the academic year is in full swing in July and August, and she enrolls them in school there so that their Spanish skills will be backed up by reading and writing in the language as well. It works well for them.


tonyburton


May 29, 2007, 7:19 AM

Post #9 of 35 (3753 views)

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Bilingual babies apparently see the(language) world differently...

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See Four month olds give a fascinating insight into language, reports Roger Highfield at
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/.../05/25/scibaby25.xml for the summary of some very interesting recent research on bilingual babies.


waltw

May 29, 2007, 8:53 AM

Post #10 of 35 (3731 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Mexican Education System

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Hello,

I can only speak regarding my children's experiences in one Mexican, private school in Oaxaca - ages 9 and 12 - and don't want to make sweeping generalizations about the entire, Mexican educational system.

The following is what we found:

- a lot of rote memorization of material
- large class sizes - 35-37 kids per class
- not good teacher screening
- lack of resources/supplies
- some incompetent teachers
- some very dedicated teachers

That said, the total immersion experience of one year in a Mexican school far outweighed any disadvantages. What the kids will be taking away.

- fluency in Spanish
- Mexican childhood friends for life
- a level of understanding/comprehension of culture/life in Latin America that will
serve them well for the rest of their lives


jennifer rose

May 29, 2007, 10:40 AM

Post #11 of 35 (3706 views)

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Re: [AIM] Mexican Education System

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Several of my American friends, with teaching backgrounds and children in Mexican schools here in Morelia, maintained that it was overload for a child to try to learn to read in English as well as Spanish at the same time. They concentrated upon having the child first learn to read in Spanish, and once the child embraced what reading was all about, they started them on reading in English a year or so later. Of course, these kids were fluent bilingual speakers, but they quickly picked up reading English after basic reading skills in Spanish had been established. My mother, who'd taught, albeit art, at an American School in Turkey back in the Dark Ages, concurred. Do you agree?

What steps or additional materials should parents whose first language is English contemplate when placing a child in a Mexican school?


waltw

May 29, 2007, 3:47 PM

Post #12 of 35 (3667 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Mexican Education System

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What steps or additional materials should parents whose first language is English contemplate when placing a child in a Mexican school?

IMHO, the number one thing parents should do when placing their kids into a Mexican school is help make that transition as smooth as possible. Everything else is secondary.

I wouldn't worry at all about kids getting behind in English that first year.
You can focus on English after they have gotten adjusted to school in a foreign country.

If your kids are not 100 % fluent in Spanish yet, a couple of recommendations:

- try and get your kids involved in activities/classes with other Spanish speaking kids before school starts in the summer, if possible (e.g. - swimming classes, art classes, etc.)

- if the teachers don't allow students to bring their textbooks home with them, buy a second set. Review the
lesson with your child, prior to the teacher giving that lesson. That way, even if the kid is struggling with Spanish or struggling with understanding the teacher, he'll have seen the lesson.

- develop a relationship with your teacher's child. Express to them how much you appreciate their understanding/patience/support.

- Ask the teacher if they can pair your kid up with a good student in class that's willing to help. If your kid doesn't understand, he can ask the other child regarding homework/class assignments, etc.

In choosing a school in Mexico I'd ask:

- people in the community about the reputation of the school
- visit several schools, prior to making a decision
- check class size
- check how far away the school is from where you live
- if it's a public school, how frequently and how long do teachers strike in your area?


Georgia


May 30, 2007, 7:02 AM

Post #13 of 35 (3616 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Mexican Education System

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Well, they certainly learn math facts, formulas, etc. but they still are not trained to think "out of the box." What concerns me the most about the Mexican educational system (well, the Latin American educational system) is that it does not teach children to analyze and think for themselves. Not a healthy educational outcome for a democracy, is it? Could it be that this explains, in part, some of the political difficulties in these countries?


raferguson


May 30, 2007, 8:37 AM

Post #14 of 35 (3594 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Mexican Education System

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Unfortunately, some of that lack of questioning may be a legacy of the Spanish colonial system. As far as I know, democracy came to Spain very late. Latin America seems to oscillate from democracy to dictatorship. The PRI governments discouraged any views that did not agree with their own, working to prevent any truly independent organizations from springing up.

I have heard the claim that the best predictor of whether a country previous colonized would become a democracy is whether it was a British Colony. The Brits believed in democracy, and inculcated that belief in the countries that they colonized. If you look at third world countries where democracy is doing well, a lot of them were British colonies.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


TlxcalaClaudia

May 30, 2007, 7:26 PM

Post #15 of 35 (3537 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Mexican Education System

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Jennifer-
I have a teaching background and a Master's in Education and most importantly, am an observing mom. I agree with your American friends' comments....my own students (again, no generalizations for all...but for my own 3rd grade class here in Mexico) could probaly use MORE in their own language and less in English. It does seem to be an overload. I am not satisfied with them getting half the info in each language. I am not convinced they are doing well later. If we base this on speaking skills....then it is easy to be deceived. But have them write in English....or have them read and then write a summary in English and wow, you will think differently. This is where I see the biggest downfall. Is my goal to educate them in English? Is my goal to get them speaking a second language (English)? I have found there are 2 schools of thought on "What is learning English"....and most are gauging how well a student speaks to determine if they know English. This is why I insist on my kids learning to READ in Spanish. To me, education in Spanish as a second language is reading and writing in Spanish. The speaking will come along later (should NOT be the other way around...again, my opinion). Not sure if I mentioned it....I am happy with what my kids are learning in their Spanish classes from reading, to writing to math. Of course, I will supplement the rest of the knowledge in English (i.e. how to use a dictionary. My students never used one and didn't even know how to alphabetize words IN SPANISH using a dictionary). Homework. Oh yes. Much more here and sorry....most of it has been busy work (exception was in math, there were REAL follow up lessons for homework each night in math).


Another point not related to Jennifer's question: I have heard again and again that kids eventually learn to read on their own....but I am not talking about pronunciation...I am talking about reading comprehension and being able to formulate opinions based on what you read by the time you are in upper grades. I want that some day my kids are able to read and tear apart the fallacy (as many printed materials have them) and can tell when a statistic is probably skewed because they can read between the lines of opinion and fact. This isn't easy for all educated people, I admit. But my expectations are to at least get the idea of the subject that is read in the second language, or this isn't reading (in my opinion).


TlxcalaClaudia

May 30, 2007, 7:38 PM

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Re: [AIM] Mexican Education System

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AIM-
I am considering a Montessori school (in Spanish) next year for the reasons you outlined (small classes and I want to at least be listened to if I have a concern). Besides, I now think it is better to teach the English reading yourself than to allow someone not fluent to do it for you. For instance, my daughter's teacher frequently misspelled words in her homework book. She pronounced the words way off everytime too. She actually argued once that you spell Autum without an "n" because you don't hear an "n"....things like that. Next year, I want my daughter in a Spanish only school....I'll take care of the English.

I am willing to bet the all Spanish school in California paid off for your friends because there was some teacher training involved. I am also willing to bet all the teachers were educated. This is not the case at my daughter's school. Three of the elementary English teachers can't produce college degrees (we have 6 English teachers in elem). One can't even provide a highschool diploma. They are teachers because they speak English better than most others. Again, is speech the determiner in being educated? (a rhetorical question, not one directed to you)

Your story was very interesting and I am glad things are working out in your case.
Claudine


TlxcalaClaudia

May 30, 2007, 7:54 PM

Post #17 of 35 (3528 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Mexican Education System

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Georgia-


Quote


Hope I did that quote command correctly. Basically I just wanted to say "YUP" in response to what you said.


jerezano

Jun 6, 2007, 7:44 AM

Post #18 of 35 (3444 views)

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Re: [TlxcalaClaudia] Mexican Education System

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Hello,

"If a general examination were to be given, the students would be failed."["Si se aplica un examen general los alumnos saldrían reprobados."] This from the man in charge of primary, secondary, and high school education in District 8 of the State of Zacatecas.

The quote is from the "Sol de Zacatecas" of June 6, 2007.

The director goes on to state that on a scale of 10, where 10 is an A and C is a 7, the grade which the students would receive from such an examination here would be 5.8 or 6.0, which is equivalent to a D in our system of ABC's.

To what does he attribute this sad state? To the fact that our teachers do not or cannot teach. He describes many other problems as well, but this is his basic complaint.

Claudia in several posts from the view point of a teacher both in University at at the primary level has pointed this fact out in several preceding posts and in other forums of this site. Her experience is in Monterrey, I believe, which supposedly has a strong educational system in comparison with other Mexican states.

So Mexican educators themselves realize that the system needs to be corrected. Then why isn't it?

Am I correct in concluding the problem can be found in the extremely strong and corrupt Unions which protect unqualified, incompetent and lazy teachers? And all this despite the fact that every year new instructors are graduated but are NOT able to find teaching posts!

Adiós. jerezano.


Cyndie

Jun 11, 2007, 3:56 AM

Post #19 of 35 (3337 views)

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Re: [jerezano] Mexican Education System

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I've just finished researching a story for the AIM-Adventures in Mexico Newsletter (Mexico-Newsletter.com) on Americans and Canadians sending their kids to Mexican schools. Bad teachers were not mentioned by anyone except on this forum. And in my own experience (7 years with two different schools in Morelia) the teachers have all been good to excellent with the exception of one which the school got rid of within a month of her starting. She was replaced with an outstanding teacher that we were very sad to leave behind this year when we came north.
Most of my research involved schools in Morelia, Ajijic, and Guanajuato.
Cyndie


waltw

Jun 11, 2007, 10:50 AM

Post #20 of 35 (3290 views)

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Re: [AIM] Mexican Education System

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Just curious. Are we talking about Americans/Canadians with their kids enrolled in private or public schools?


Cyndie

Jun 11, 2007, 2:18 PM

Post #21 of 35 (3262 views)

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Re: [waltw] Mexican Education System

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All private schools.
Cyndie


waltw

Jun 11, 2007, 3:14 PM

Post #22 of 35 (3249 views)

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Re: [AIM] Mexican Education System

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So I think we may be comparing apples to oranges.

Most Americans/Canadians who send their kids to school in Mexico are generally happy. Why? Because they send their kids to private schools with good reputations.

When we came to Oaxaca last summer just prior to APPO taking over and the public teachers strike, the choice was pretty clear - private school for the kids, or spend the next several months playing soccer on the streets with their cousins.


Cyndie

Jun 12, 2007, 6:33 AM

Post #23 of 35 (3200 views)

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Re: [waltw] Mexican Education System

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In the last couple of weeks I've communicated with 10 sets of parents who have sent their English-speaking kids to Mexican schools -- all age kids -- and the key element for success seems to be small class size -- even more than having English be part of the curriculum which some folks didn't find important at all -- particularly for toddlers. I suspect it's hard to impossible to find public schools with small classes. Maybe in small villages...
Cyndie


GueroPaz

Oct 30, 2007, 3:05 AM

Post #24 of 35 (3099 views)

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Re: [AIM] Mexican Education System

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Pardon me for coming in after the discussion ended, but I'm new here and planning to teach private English lessons, perhaps in Pto. Veracruz. I'm surprised to hear so many gringos say this about the state of public (and even private) education in Mexico, because the teaching forums I've recently joined haven't mentioned it.

What has been described here resembles Thailand, a terribly ineffective method of relying on huge class sizes, poorly prepared professional educators, over-use of the rote method, no critical thinking, the teacher is always right, etc.

Okay then: should I expect that private students on the Gulf Coast won't be well prepared to learn English?


Veracruzana

Oct 30, 2007, 6:08 AM

Post #25 of 35 (3086 views)

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Re: [GueroPaz] Mexican Education System

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GueroPaz,
I recently rejoined MexConnect and I too find this thread very interesting. As a retired U.S. teacher, I know there are many flaws in the American educational system. One of the things we have found out from Mexican teachers, some still in the system, and some retired is this idea of "plaza." Apparently once you sign your contract (plaza) you have that post for life. Our recently retired next door neighbor "willed" his position to his own son. We have heard of this from other people...that you can pass your position on to someone else, whether they are qualified or not. I know the teachers' union here is very strong, but this idea seems to go against all fairness. Someone mentioned all the teachers here who can't find a position. No wonder with this type of thing happening. We heard another story about a college teacher who got a new job in another sector and gave his teaching position to his wife.

Here in our town of Coatepec, Veracruz, the Secondaria down the street has two shifts. The first group goes in around 7:30 A.M. and leaves around 1:00 P.M. The second group goes in around then and leaves around 7:30 P.M. I asked someone about it and they said they have to do it this way because the school is too small for the number of students attending. Admirable for them to work it out so that the facility is being used so well, but that is a pretty short school day. And, thank goodness, different teachers have the two shifts, so the jobs are spread out. Just some observations.
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