In 2010, the PSOE Minister of Education Ángel Gabilondo presented the «Social and Political Pact for Education». The document was articulated around a series of objectives for a decade. The adoption of these measures required something highly desired by teachers and the educational community: to provide the system with the stability necessary for its application to be effective. This implied the joint work of the Ministry of Education and the educational administrations of the Autonomous Communities, within the framework of the Education Sector Conference, as well as the participation of social agents, especially representatives of the different sectors of the educational community.
The objectives of this great “Social and Political Pact for Education” that Gabilondo proposed were the following:
1. The educational success of all students.
2. Equity and excellence. Evaluation as a factor to improve the quality of education.
3. Flexibility of the Educational System. Post-mandatory studies. Permanent education.
4. Vocational Training as a key instrument to advance towards a new model of economic growth.
5. New ways of teaching and learning: the role of information and communication technologies.
6. Plurilingualism. Promotion of language learning.
7. Education as a good of public interest and the right of all society.
8. Modernization and internationalization of universities. Training, research, knowledge transfer and social responsibility.
9. Social dimension of education: scholarships and study aid.
10. Coexistence and education in values: involvement of the family, teachers and society.
11. Teachers: professional and social recognition of the teacher.
12. Inclusive education, diversity and interculturality: right to difference without difference of rights.
To this text many contributions from different actors were added and, after much work, an extensive agreement was achieved between social agents and the educational community: unions, parents’ associations (of public and private education), employers of private centers and political parties. All parties except one, the Popular Party, which has never accepted a Pact for Education and then thwarted what seemed to be the best opportunity we have ever had to achieve it.
10 years before this failed pact, in 1990, there was a great agreement in the Congress of Deputies, where the parliamentary groups of the PSOE, CDS, CIU, PNV, IU and Mixed Group approved the Education Law. Again the PP was taken down. Another Education Law, that of 2006, was approved by the PSOE, CC, CIU, PNV, IU, ERC and Mixed Group.
Remember that the Popular Party has enacted two educational laws in this century: that of 2002 was supported by the PP and CC itself, and the recently replaced LOMCE, of 2013, was supported alone by the roll of the absolute majority of the PP. Not a single support was raised. In fact, while the LOMLOE has admitted 250 amendments and 300 contributions from the educational community during its processing, the LOMCE only admitted 12 amendments.
With this reality, the fact that the provincial official of the Popular Party appears in the media showing his displeasure at the “forced application” of a law that, in his opinion, “should come out by consensus” is more than a joke in bad taste . The evidence is clear and stubborn.
Yes, gentlemen, we teachers want a Pact for Education to be able to work hand in hand with the entire educational community for a stable period. It is in this scenario where, surely, the educational fruits that we should all wish for could be seen. But clearly not everyone wants to get there.
My thanks and appreciation to the teacher and former minister Gabilondo who managed to unite all the social, economic and political representatives of Spanish education (except the PP). My applause for all those who have tried and those who want to continue on that good path. History looks back and clearly reflects who has participated or not in the commitment of a Pact for Education and who has permanently tripped up so that this transcendental objective is not a reality in our beloved country.
But the debate around the LOMLOE articles not only reveals a deep contempt for the pact and the inability to accept any kind of concession on a single way of understanding education, his. It is also an example of contempt for the Spanish Constitution itself, to which the new educational law repeatedly refers.
In fact, we are already used to those who distribute constitutionalist cards, highlight only the parts of the Magna Carta text that interest them and despise those that do not. Now they are doing it with the wonderful article 3, which literally says this:
1. Castilian is the official Spanish language of the State. All Spaniards have the duty to know it and the right to use it.
2. The other Spanish languages will also be official in the respective Autonomous Communities in accordance with their Statutes.
3. The wealth of the different linguistic modalities of Spain is a cultural heritage that will be the object of special respect and protection.
This is the reality of Spain. To understand it, it is only necessary to read the Constitution, to which the most criticized articles of the new Education Law explicitly refer. Everything else is a lie, a fake news crusade to erode the Government of Spain and dressed in radical nationalism.
With their intention to focus exclusively on what interests them, those who demonstrate against the LOMLOE do not say that the text also includes the progressive increase of public places for the stage from 0 to 3 years; that the religion subject continues to be taught, although it will not count towards the average grades; the prohibition that subsidized schools segregate by sex (boys ‘classrooms and girls’ classrooms); the transfer of public land exclusively to the construction of publicly owned centers; fixing the “exceptionality” of grade repetition; the inclusion of a fourth form of high school, more general, so that students with fewer abilities can access; or the referral of certain students who are now in Special Education centers to ordinary centers, betting on integration if possible and strengthening the public centers themselves within 10 years, in coordination and tutelage with the special education centers.
That the State is going to reinforce ordinary centers with the new educational law to promote the integration of people with disabilities, which, by the way, was something that both PP and Citizens defended in their electoral programs, does not mean that special schools are going to close . Not now, not ten years from now. What is approved is what the UN requires, which has already admonished Spain for understanding that the systematic enrollment of people with some type of disability in special schools could be understood as discrimination.
In this manifest use of news fakes, hoaxes or, simply, lies, VOX now defends the centers with which it wanted to “end” (literally) in its 2016 electoral program. Everything is for confrontation and chaos.
One last thing. It is not true that all Spaniards have the right to choose between public and concerted education. In rural areas we do not have subsidized schools. And surely, it has already been shown on other occasions, the Popular Party would have closed 100 public schools that today the Government of Aragon maintains open in rural areas. What false freedom is that they defend?
And in the urban environment, where the concerted schools are located, freedom must be enjoyed by all male and female students on equal terms, since the concert is paid for by the State, segregation and selection of students should not be allowed, but Registration should be done through the usual procedures and without any additional charge.
Manuel Rando López is president of the Diputación de Teruel and mayor of Calamocha, teacher and former director of the Rural School with final destination in CRA “Eras del Jiloca” and former secretary general of the Federation of Education.