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Paloma Grau, Professor at Tecnun-Escuela de Ingeniería of the University of Navarra
Education and freedom, everyone's business
Our elders say that we are very fortunate to live in a free society, where all people have the same rights and duties, where they can think and express their opinion freely and where parents can educate their children from agreement with our values.
This brings me back to what I experienced a few days ago at congress, where the sixth law of Education in 40 years, the LOMLOE, was approved as an organic law, not without controversy, disagreement between political parties, without being heard by the educational community and a great social outcry. I do not intend to judge the different political positions, but to highlight some issues that, as a person dedicated to teaching and mother of three daughters, I believe should make us think and react.
In my opinion, this law violates three very important aspects. The first one, the quality and demand in the training of our children and adolescents in schools. The second, the right of parents to choose the training they want for their children. And the third, the Education of people with functional diversity, who have the right to choose where and how they want to be educated according to their particular needs.
Regarding the first point, the new law makes grade repetition an exception and relegates Religion to a second-rate subject . We are one of the OECD countries where schoolchildren repeat the most grades and, indeed, it is worrying. However, I do not believe that the solution lies in lowering the requirement to pass the course or to obtain the degree scroll of ESO or high school diploma with failed subjects. The core topic is in promote initiatives that reinforce the learning of the knowledge and competences of each level. If our students are below the average, let us invest more or better and provide teachers with training and resources to provide a better quality teaching based on work and effort, where they learn to cope with frustration, understanding failure as an opportunity to emerge stronger. Only in this way will they be able to approach their university training successfully and face their professional life with integrity, magnanimity and global vision, very important issues in today's world.
Of the subject of Religion I will only say that there are many fathers and mothers who opt for it. A much higher percentage than those who declare themselves Catholics. They think that this subject makes their sons and daughters better people because the religious culture and the values it promotes are vital for civil society, which is nourished and supported by these people and organizations based on values.
If we talk about the Education concerted, with the new law disappears the concept of social demand and endangers the right of parents to choose the center educational of agreement with their statement of core values and values, something endorsed by the article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a fact, currently in Euskadi, the Education concerted is an option chosen by 47% of the families and 29% at national level.
The LOMLOE changes the rules and grants only to the public administration the choice of the center, being able to prioritize the occupation of public places against the subsidized ones. Thus, in the event that the supply of school places exceeds issue of children to be enrolled, something that could happen in the very near future, the subsidized centers could disappear due to lack of students, regardless of their social demand.
This is the moment to adopt courageous measures that benefit the whole educational community, from public administrations, institutions, teaching bodies, students and families. The implementation of the school voucher would favor the freedom of parents to choose the school they want for their children from agreement according to their convictions or preferences for a certain model educational , either public or private. It is a measure aimed at achieving true equality and a healthy skill between centers, since any differential bias between schools would be eliminated. On the other hand, it would put an end to the eternal discussion on the financing of the Education, always at the whim of the political moment in which we find ourselves and which generates, as in this case, great legal uncertainty.
I do not believe that the approval of this law should put us on alert only to parents of children in charter schools, or to parents of children who require a special Education . It is not about polarizing or creating rifts, but that all parents, as the main responsible for our children, have the right to choose. It is not a question of whether or not a public or subsidized center is better or not. It is about the fact that as long as there is a sufficient majority, the State, regardless of its ideology, should attend to something as basic as the freedom of citizens.