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13th Tri-national Conference—Call for the meeting

November 9, 10, 11, 2018, Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico

Internationalism: a strategy for struggles to defend education as a social right.

Mexico, United States, Canada


Two years after the last Trinational Conference was held in Vancouver, Canada, we have experienced a radical change in the international situation. In our last conference we focused on the threat to public education represented by the deepening of free trade agreements. But today, in their effort to escape the economic and political crises generated by the neoliberal model, financial groups that dominate the economies and governments of our countries have redefined their strategies. “Free” trade is no longer the policy they seek to impose on the world.

To hide that the exacerbated poverty, lack of decent jobs and the alarming concentration of wealth in our societies have been generated by the neoliberal model of dispossession, a xenophobic and racist discourse is constructed that seeks to hold migrants responsible for the failure of that model. A supremacist discourse accompanies authoritarian policies, such as those implemented by United States president Donald Trump—policies which violate basic human rights of migrants, and also of African-American workers, women, and workers in general.

There is a hardening of the forms of power exercised as large financial groups worldwide seek to maintain their hegemony by restricting democratic freedoms, social rights, human rights and the sovereignty of our societies.

Today more than ever, education as a social right is in danger. Not just because we face more aggressive forms of privatization and commodification, but because education is seen as a coveted tool for imbedding in the ideology of our peoples these supremacist, xenophobic and racist ideas of contempt of one for the other, and rejection of everything collective, social or public.

However, it is encouraging and inspiring to see in these two years the growth of the struggles of teachers, students, and the people in defense of public education, labour rights, and political freedoms in Mexico. In the United States, we see the consolidation of the Chicago Teachers Union, its connection and commitment to communities, and promotion of the democratic organization of education workers around the country. Important struggles are rising from the rank and file of education workers’ unions in Oklahoma, West Virginia, and other states in defense of their teaching/learning conditions, but also against the mercantilist model of closing public schools and replacing them with charter schools. In Los Angeles, the movement to defend migrants has sparked initiatives such as sanctuary schools that refuse to collaborate with federal migration officials.

In Canada, important struggles have been waged by teachers’ unions and community allies to revert education budget cuts and defend collective bargaining agreements.

Today, if we are to advance in expanding the universal right to education, decent work and the democratization of our communities, we must change the economic model and the political regime to build societies with social justice.

It is in this framework that we call on trade unionists, teachers, researchers, students, education activists from Mexico, the United States and Canada, interested in the defense of education as a social right from


an internationalist perspective, to participate in the 13th Trinational Conference to be held November 9–11, 2018 in Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico. The host organizations are the Mexican Section of the Trinational Coalition in Defense of Public Education and the Veracruz Popular Teachers Movement, a member of the National Coalition of Education Workers (CNTE).

Conference Program

The Conference takes place on the evening of November 9, all day on November 10, and in the morning of November 11 includes plenary sessions and a series of six workshops. There will be translation to allow for participation in both English and Spanish.

Visits to schools or higher education institutions will take place on November 9. This is a chance to see the reality of the context of education is always a highlight of the Tri-national. The conference will begin with reports on the situation of education in each country. It will also consider the current state of NAFTA and the overall political context.

Workshop Themes:

1)     Commercialization of education, new forms of privatization, NTICs, consortia and foundations.

2)     Education financing, budget cuts and the use of public resources to subsidize the private sector;

3)     Precarization of working conditions for education workers and the deterioration of learning conditions at all levels, from K–12 to post-secondary;

4)     Standardized testing and “evaluation” of teacher performance;

5)     Construction of educational alternatives, including indigenous education;

6)     Successful experiences of organization and struggle at local, regional, national, tri-national and hemispheric levels.

In each workshop proposals for international action will be made, which will be incorporated into the plan of action for the next 2 years.

Logistics for participants

The conference will be held in Orizaba, Veracruz, Mexico on November 9 to 11, 2018.

The conference is expected to have about 40 participants from each of Canada and the U.S., about 80 from Mexico and a few from other countries in Latin America and the United Kingdom. 

Participants will need to travel to Mexico City on Wednesday, November 7 and book into a hotel in Mexico City on Wednesday, November 7. Participants from all the countries will travel together by bus to Orizaba, Veracruz, on the afternoon of November 8. It is about a 4 to 5 hour bus ride to Orizaba.

The group will be housed in a hotel in Orizaba on November 8, 9 and 10 and return to Mexico City on the afternoon of November 11. They will be at a hotel in Mexico City on the evening of November 11 and return home on November 12.

The conference fee is $100 (US) or $125 (Canadian). Some meals will be covered as part of the conference fee.

Details for booking hotels will be provided by the organizers from the Mexican Section of the Tri-national Coalition. Requests for information and registration should be sent by email to:  seccionmexicana.coali@gmail.com


Organizing Committee

13th Conference of the Trinational Coalition in Defense of Public Education.



For background on the Trinational Coalition for the Defense of Public Education, please consult the following document:

"A Brief History of the Trinational Coalition", by Dan Leahy

"Breve Historia de la Coalición Trinacional (Español)" por Dan Leahy)

Previous Conferences:

 Conference 2016 - Vancouver, BC, Canada

 Conference 2014 - Chicago, Illinois, USA

Conference 2012 - Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico

Conference 2010 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Since NAFTA created new links between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada in 1994, education union activists from the three countries have met at a conference every two to three years.  The purpose has been to deepen understanding of the impact of the neo-liberal policies exemplified by NAFTA on public education and to find ways to work together in mutual support of public education in the three countries. 

The 10h conference, which was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in May, 2010, was co-hosted by FNEEQ-CSN (Federation Nationale des Enseignantes et Enseignants du Quebec) and the CSQ (Centrale des Syndicats du Quebec). This conference provided another opportunity to join in this process. More the 260 union representatives and other education activists from several regions in Quebec, Canada, the United States and Mexico participated in this event.

Final Declaration

Declaración final (español)


Inaugural speeches (in original languages only):

Irene Lanzinger, President, BCTF

Julie Washington, Vice-President UTLA

Jorge Cazares en representación de la Coalición trinacional - sección mexicana

Réjean Parent, président de la Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ)

Workshop reports - TBA 

 Conference 2008 - Los Angeles, California, USA

Conference 2006 - Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico