July 25, 2007
Reg Weaver thought he had a cunning strategy for cornering elected officials (read about his cell-phone attack here). But his wiles are no match for his counterpart to the south. Elba Esther Gordillo--who's known as la maestra (the teacher)--is the head of Mexico's teachers' union, is probably the country's most powerful woman, and may be its second most powerful politician. Gordillo controls a significant amount of legislators and usually negotiates directly with Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who tacitly backs her control over the nation's schools. And when she's forced to work with the education department, she has some help on the inside, too: her son-in-law is Mexico's deputy minister in charge of basic education. The government shows its love for Senora Gordillo by deferring money from the education ministry to the union--$70 million in 2006 alone. Meanwhile, Mexico's schools remain lousy. Weaver could learn a lot from Gordillo. Let's hope he doesn't. ¡Ay, caramba!
"'The teacher' holds back the pupils," The Economist, July 19, 2007