Reporters on the Job

No Teacher Left Behind: Correspondent Ken Bensinger visited three Mexican schools in the course of reporting today's story (page 1) about the dramatic jump in the number of "telesecondaries." Two of the three welcomed him and the education ministry officials accompanying him. But one school principal threw him and the two officials out.

"We arrived about 8:30 a.m. The children were doing the daily flag-raising ceremony in the courtyard, marching around with the state and national flags. It was freezing outside. And it was equally cold when we went inside," says Ken. "Almost immediately, the director ordered us to leave. She said, 'We have no chalkboards, nothing.' "

Ken asked the education officials why they were booted out. "They speculated that the school was overcrowded, underequipped, and that the director felt that nothing good could come from media coverage. They also suspected that union issues may have been behind it," says Ken.

One of the issues: as teleschools grow in Mexico, by law they are supposed to be converted to traditional schools. But the teachers' union opposes this, Ken learned, because it could mean that teleteachers (often lacking the qualifications for traditional teaching positions) would lose their jobs. "I asked one teacher: 'Isn't it better for the students if the school is converted?' Her reply was: 'And what about my colleagues?' "

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