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Lorena, the Professor

Lorena, the Professor

Lorena, the Professor
January 04
11:43 2019

Morgan Smith

I agree with Jesus Sánchez-Meleán’s editorial stating that Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) shot himself in the foot by cancelling construction on Mexico City’s proposed new airport. A bad beginning for the man who I thought was by far the best candidate for president. Soon another challenge will be coming. Will he reverse the educational reforms enacted by President Enrique Peña Nieto and return control of the system to the corrupt teachers’ unions? Here is a specific example of the danger this could cause.

For the last seven years, Lorena Solares has been the professor for a small Tarahumara school on the west edge of Juárez. It is a neat, clean, one-room school located in the midst of the extreme poverty of this Tarahumara colony. Dirt streets, shacks made of chunks of plywood. Next to the school is a little casita where she lives. The complex is surrounded by a metal fence for security. When I visit, I try to bring fresh fruit, something these kids have rarely experienced.

When I first visited there were sixteen students in total and they all had uniforms except the two oldest girls. For many, school is doubly hard. the Tarahumaras have their own language and many of the students, therefore, have to learn Spanish in addition to their regular courses.

This heroic teacher, Lorena, was born in the city of Chihuahua and studied at a university in Guachochi in the southern part of the state of Chihuahua. She is now 28 years old. When I visited in 2015, she didn’t have a car; therefore, if she wanted to buy food or other necessities she had to walk to the highway and use the bus system. If she wanted to visit her family in Chihuahua, she had to take a local bus east towards Juárez then come back west towards Chihuahua in the long-distance bus.

There are 27 Tarahumara families in the colony. Some are friends of Lorena’s and will invite her over for dinner; others have little interest in education.  She has a sense of dedication and commitment that is far above the ordinary, especially in Mexico where the education system has for years been run by the unions. But this is not uncommon along the border –individuals like her who make extraordinary efforts to help others.

On December 1st, Mexico’s new President, AMLO took charge of government. He campaigned on a platform of creating jobs and improving the educational system and won an overwhelming victory. Will he respect the professionalism of teachers like Lorena Solares or will he turn the system over to the corrupt unions? If he shoots himself in the foot on this issue, thousands of students and teachers will suffer.

Morgan Smith has been traveling to the border for many years in order to document conditions there and assist various humanitarian organizations as well as several families. He can be reached at 505-982-9620.

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Edición Virtual | #334 | 14 de Marzo 2019

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