Melanio Paredes is a jack of all trades. As of this week, his resume now includes leading the Dominican Republic’s ministry of education, a role that will bring him full circle from his roots as a public school teacher and former leader of the Dominican Association of Teachers (ADP)--a move which makes him (as far as I can tell) the only former teachers’ union head in Latin America to serve as a country’s principal education minister.
Paredes, also a highly respected economist and former minister of Industry and Labor in the Fernandez administration from 2007 – 2008, has already received a resounding endorsement from the teachers’ union. He has taught in both public and private schools, served as a university professor, and worked in the private sector before entering the government last year.
While a former union leader landing getting the country's highest education post is a first, it underscores what Denise Vaillant, head of the PREAL Working Group on the Teaching Profession, sees as a new trend in ministries of education across all of Latin America: more ex-gremialistas are switching sides and accepting high-level ministry positions, in large part, with the hopes of achieving better and more integrated relations between the the regions’ governments and powerful teachers unions.
Sources: Listin Diario, El Caribe, PREAL, EdWeek