Mexico's president proposes sweeping education reform, takes union head on

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is proposing sweeping reforms to a public education system widely seen as ineffective, taking on the rule of a union leader often called the country's most powerful woman.

Pena Nieto seeks to create a merit-based system of hiring and promoting teachers in a country where the positions are often bought and inherited.

His plan announced Monday would move much of the control from the 1.5-million-member National Union of Education Workers to the federal government.

It is his first major proposal since taking office Dec. 1 and is widely seen as a blow to union president Elba Esther Gordillo, who has played the role of kingmaker with many Mexican politicians.

She was absent from the announcement, attended by the leaders of three major political parties.