“The reforms are introduced with blood”–A Oaxaca teacher on the life and death struggle against the testocracy
“The reforms are introduced with blood,” mural in Oaxaca, Mexico in 2016. A. S. Dillingham
The teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico have been setting the international standard for social movement unionism and the defense of public education for many years.
In her 2005 release of Granito de Arena, my friend, award-winning Seattle filmmaker Jill Freidberg, captured the story of hundreds of thousands of public schoolteachers in Oaxaca who have built a powerful grassroots movement, endured brutal repression over some 25-years of struggle for social and economic justice in Mexico’s public schools.
In 2013, when teachers at my school refused to administer the MAP test as an act of defiance to the corporate education reform test-and-punish agenda, I was worried about the consequences that such an action could have. I also remember talking with other teachers about the fact that if the teachers in Oaxaca could build barricades in the streets to defend their schools from corporate takeover, we could manage to organize the MAP boycott. And, in fact, teachers from Oaxaca came to our aid, writing the Seattle boycotting teachers a letter of solidarity.
Today, the struggle to stop the abuses of standardized testing of teachers and other corporate reforms in Oaxaca has literally become a life and death struggle with police officers brutallygunning downing at least eight protesters, including community members and teachers (for information about sending letters of protest, please visit the NPE site).
My good friend Shane Dillingham recently moved to Oaxaca, Mexico where he is working on a book about the history of indigenous struggle in the region. Shane conducted this remarkable interview for Jacobin magazine with René González Pizarro, a Oaxacan teacher and union member, to discuss the impact of corporate education reform, union democracy and this history of his local 22 in the struggle for social justice.—