The root cause of the strike is that the Government has approved a new education-system bill with every party in the opposition voting against it; with the teacher unions against it and, what’s more, with the majority of parents against it. The Government, armed with a crushing majority in both houses, ploughed ahead and passed the LOMCE anyway and then, so did the lower house – it is now at the Senate.
So, why is everybody against the new education bill? Mainly, it’s for eight reasons:
Firstly, a total lack of consensus and an overdose of high-handedness by the Governing party – that much is evident by the sheer social outcry against it.
Secondly, many see the bill as a thinly veiled attempt to sell off public schools to the private sector. Until now, and even under Franco, the education system was based on “prestación de servicio público de educación;” or in other words, public or a state education service. The new text has clearly omitted the “public” element, leaving it merely as “prestación servicios.”
The school boards, (comprising of teachers, parents and students) and the Faculty are being robbed of their decision making capacity and the role of Head Teacher is reinforced and awarded more decision making capacity.
Private schools that segregated classes by sex were denied public grants but under the new bill, they will receive them. They are also allowed to segregate by pupil level and aptitudes, rather than merely age. In state schools you can’t do this as it is considered anti-constitutional, but private schools were free to do as they chose, but were denied public grants.
Castillano has been set as the ‘vehicular language’ in state schools all over Spain and regional languages are no longer considered mainstream school subjects.
The lay subject Citizen Education (a substitute for Religious Education classes where the Constitution and other aspects of society are taught) has been scrapped and R.E. brought back in as a school subject requiring a pass mark; i.e., if you don’t pass your R.E. exams, you are held back a year. Many see this as a purely ideologically founded decision, harking back to Franco’s Spain.
Higher classroom densities thanks to there being 80,000 more pupils this school year and 25,000 fewer teachers. Many fail to see how cutting back on materials and teachers, whilst cramming more pupils into a classroom will improve Spain’s dismal education figures.
Grants for school transport, school dinners and school materials are being drastically cut, precisely when families are operating on tighter domestic budgets.
Without doubt, many readers will agree with one or some of the changes, but taken as a whole, the change to the education system is negative and as soon as the governing party loses its majority voting power in the two houses, it will be revoked. This constant changing and revocation of educational acts every time the government changes hands has proved disastrous for the academic achievements of the nation’s children.
Editorial comment: Personally, I think that reinforcing Castellano as the state language in detriment of regional languages is a positive thing – who speaks Catalan outside Cataluña, compared with who speaks Castellano or Spanish around the globe.
Secondly, segregation by sex is positive as boys and girls have different development speeds and aptitudes, therefore lumping 14/15-year-old boys in with 14/15-year-old girls just because they share the same age is counter productive – after all, in sports competitions children of different sexes are not lumped together just because they share the same age precisely because they have different physical abilities – and so it is when it comes to learning abilities: girls mature much faster.
That being said, entire schools of just one sex is not a good idea – boys and girls need to mix, at least and as a minimum, during recreational periods.