Members of the Mexican National Educational Workers Union (CNTE) shut down the main thoroughfare leading to Mexico City's international airport on Friday in a protest against a recently approved overhaul of the nation's educational system. They were met by some 250 riot police, who met them before they could reach the airport. According to Animal Politico, the protestors agreed not to attempt to push forward until the results of negotiations between the political heads of the union and multi-partisan legislators became known. People on their way to the airport were forced in many cases to get out of their cars and walk to the airport with their bags in hand, and the city's metro system announced on Twitter that service to three stations had been halted.

Aside from this contingent, thousands of teachers also continue to protest in the Zócalo or main plaza of Mexico's capital as well as outside of its Chamber of Deputies. On Monday, about 100 teachers interrupted the chamber as lawmakers discussed the bills. Two days later, this crowd of protesters impeded lawmakers from entering the chamber to debate how education reform legislation would be implemented. Francisco Bravo, a leader of the CNTE, told AFP then that 50,000 educators had descended on Mexico City from various parts of Mexico in order to attend the protests. "Our demand is for them not to vote on the laws, that they suspend the process and that we enter into negotiations that take the teachers' point of view into consideration," Bravo said.

According to the Washington Post, the most hotly contested parts of the school reforms would create a national system for hiring, evaluating and promoting teachers independent of the "discretionary criteria" currently used in schools. The system would include mandatory testing, which teachers say should be used exclusively to help them improve, not to decide whether or not they keep their jobs or are promoted. Mexico spends more of its budget on education than any of the other 33 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (a club of mostly developed nations), but its students score the lowest in standardized tests. Its 1.4-million member union is the largest in Latin America and constitutes half of the nation's government workers; unionized teachers are permitted in some states to sell their positions when they leave them. Click on the link below to see video of the teachers clashing with riot police in Mexico City in front of the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday.

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