There is a brewing battle between religious leaders and education officials in Mexico over the role of the teachers union and their alleged conduct over putting the union's interest over the interests of the children they are trusted to educate.
Mexico's Catholic bishops recently published a letter insisting that a complete reorganization of Mexico's educational system is needed in order to bring the focus back on the school children and less on Mexico's national teachers union.
The letter was written by Bishop Alfonso Cortes of Cuernavaca and dated Sept. 12. The pastoral letter cited the past practices of the National Education Workers Union- Latin America's largest labor organization with more than 1.4 million members- have led to corruption and the misappropriations of resources.
"It's necessary to teach ... how to think, to be critical and not just comply with predetermined objectives," the letter said. It criticized teachers for not "discovering (students') authentic dignity and their service vocation in society," the letter read.
There has been a growing controversy within Mexico over the teachers union, who had previously proclaimed to advocate for a secular state, after reports revealed that some members were involved in the Mexican political system by using publically paid teachers to perform non-educational services.
There is also a strong push by religious and community leaders to incorporate a religious curriculum within the school system after repeated objections over the portrayal of the church within Mexico that is contained in the textbooks.
That portrayal cast the Church in a negative light by casting church leaders as opponents of Mexico's revolution and subsequent independence.
Bishops' conference president Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla explained the letter was not to advocate for one religion over another, but to advocate for the general teaching of religion in an attempt to bring together both sides in order to better serve the interests of the students.
"In the document, we try to build bridges," Retes said, according to CNS. "We're not here to judge the persons or judge the structures (of the union), rather to say what's lacking, that how we can help."