Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says his government will conduct a census to determine which teachers are working and purge the rest from the payroll.

Speaking in the western state of Michoacan, the president gestured with a thumb Saturday to indicate that any "freeloader" found on the payroll will be tossed.

López Obrador plans to federalize education rather than allocate school funds to states. The president said some governors spend federal money earmarked for education on other things and then ask for more money.

López Obrador said that "we are going to bring order."

Michoacan suffered paralyzing rail blockades in January by striking teachers demanding back pay from the state government.

The crowd booed Michoacan Gov. Silvano Aureoles, who appeared alongside López Obrador on Saturday.