The Chicago Teachers' Union
had the honor of inviting you to participate in the
The 11th Tri-national Conference for the Defense of Public Education
which was held in
Illinois on May 9 - 11, 2014
The topic of our conference was:
"20 years building alternatives to neoliberal politics in education. (Veinte años Construyendo alternativas a la agenda neoliberal)."
It had been 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect. Its promoters claimed it would provide economic and social benefits to Mexico, Canada and the United States. However, when we looked back, we saw the reality of NAFTA and the negative impact on public education of policies that place corporate interests over social rights.
The 2014 Tri-national Conference in Defense of Public Education was an opportunity to reflect together on what has happened since 1994 and to plan for the future. This was the 11th Tri-national Conference bringing together teachers and education activists from Mexico, Canada and the US since the first in 1993.
All three countries have seen policies of privatization, standardized testing, attacks on teachers, demonizing of teacher unions, negating collective bargaining, cutting funding, laying off teachers, and reducing benefits and pensions. All levels have been affected: elementary, secondary and higher education.
The Tri-national Conference provides an opportunity to share experiences, develop strategies and build solidarity among education activists from the three countries.
It is appropriate that this 11th Tri-national Conference was hosted by the Chicago Teachers' Union. This union has inspired many with its grass roots organizing, building alliances in communities and defending against attacks on teachers and public education. It presents a model for the challenge of rebuilding a movement in support of public education.
This conference also came at a time of unprecedented levels of resistance by teachers in Mexico to the imposition of policies that are destructive to education as a social right and to the labour rights of teachers.
Interested education activists from the three countries took part in the conference. Translation was provided to allow full participation by those who spoke only Spanish or English. The number of participants was limited in order to have a balance of participation from all three countries. One public evening event was open to a wide participation.
Program / Agenda:
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)
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.
Inaugural speeches (in original languages only):
Workshop reports - TBA