Education law: the sector asks for a law for all, and the bishops call for dialogue

Education marked June, in the middle of the pandemic. While the parliamentary majority rejected the amendments to the entire education bill, Cardinal Carlos Osoro and the Episcopal Commission for Education and Culture appealed for an education system based on the person, and for dialogue.

Omnes-July 1, 2020-Reading time: 4 minutes

These were intense days for the draft of the new education law, which the government wants to process in an accelerated manner. The plenary session of Congress took place on the 17th and was for the Socialist Minister of Education, Isabel Celaá, the first defense of her project in parliament, while the opposition parties were able to explain their rejection of the text. 

Finally, the draft Organic Law for the Modification of the LOE (LOMLOE), overcame the amendments to the totality filed by the PP, Vox and Ciudadanos parties, and by 195 votes against its return, and 153 in favor, the bill continues to move forward in the phase of discussion of partial amendments to the text, at the time of writing these lines.

Minister Celaá denied that the reasons for which they asked for the withdrawal of her law were true. In her opinion, "The arguments mentioned in the three amendments to the totality presented do not respond to the content of the law. The law maintains the right of parents to choose the denominational religious training they wish for their children; it reformulates the regulation of the teaching of Castilian and the co-official languages, taking into account the parts of the LOMCE that repealed the Constitutional Court ruling; and it complies with the obligation that the Constitution assigns to the public authorities to guarantee the right of all to education."

The opposition, however, considers that "this law represents the rupture of the constitutional pact". since "curtails fundamental rights and freedoms", such as "the freedom and right of families to choose the center where their children will be educated". (Sandra Moneo, PP); she points out that "there has been a lack of consultation and broad debate with the organizations and social agents affected by a change in the educational project of this magnitude". (Georgina Trías, Vox); and stresses that "To impose a far-reaching, non-consensual structural reform in a situation, no longer of a state of alarm, but of a state of educational emergency is, at the very least, a deliberate lack of empathy, and to do so with sectarian overtones and, in my opinion, serious technical deficiencies, sincerely seems to me to be seriously irresponsible". (Marta Martín, Ciudadanos).

Employers call for consensus

These and other arguments have been put forward for months by the main employers and education unions, as reported by Palabra. "There is a difficult time ahead after the pandemic, this is not the time to promote a legislative change without sufficient consensus, the bill must be amended to make it a law for all."said Alfonso Aguiló, chairman of the Spanish Confederation of Educational Centers (CECE). "The repeal of the LOMCE should not become a political trophy, so longed for by some, but an opportunity to make a consensus law that provides stability to our educational system".Luis Centeno, deputy general secretary of Catholic Schools. 

The next law "It causes unease in a large part of the educational community since it is an insult to subsidized education and a threat to all those who have chosen a subsidized school for their children, in addition to being a curtailment of rights and freedoms for all citizens and a censorship of plurality in education".maintains the Concerted Platformwhich also brings together the parents' confederations Concapa and Cofapa, and the trade unions FSIE (Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Education), and FEUSO (Federation of Education of the Unión Sindical Obrera (Union Sindical Obrera)).

Cardinal Osoro: humanizing education

In June, the Spanish bishops offered some considerations to take into account regarding the new law. Perhaps someone might think that the Church should not interfere in matters such as education. The argument is weak. Read Cardinal Osoro, in his weekly letter, published in the weekly magazine Alpha and Omegacoinciding with the parliamentary debate. 

The Archbishop of Madrid began by referring to the context of Covid-19, "in which many things have happened that have deeply affected us, especially the most vulnerable". Christians appeal to "to the common good, a path in which we each put the best of ourselves, in which tasks and responsibilities are divided and behave".he added.

The cardinal then went directly into educational flour: "As I see it, an education law is the manifestation of what we want for the future of a people, and education is key to the present and future of a nation. Education is key for the present and the future of a nation. What to do in these circumstances we live in to humanize education, that is, to build an educational system that forges the culture of encounter, of dialogue, of hope, of inclusion, of cooperation?"

After these lines, the question is easy to raise: is this not a crucial issue for the Pastors of the Church to pronounce themselves on? The Note of the Episcopal Commission for Education and Culture, presided over by Bishop Alfonso Carrasco, Bishop of Lugo, began in the same vein

Having seen some reasons for entering into the debate, the bishops make known their core message. For the Cardinal of Madrid, there are three key terms: humanize, person and dialogue. For example, he said in his letter: "To annul in education is not to recognize the dimensions that the human being has, which for some make them situate themselves in life as believers, and to restrict the desire to humanize and humanize. No one today can doubt that the Christian faith humanizes"..

Freedom and social demand  

The Note of the Episcopal Commission for Education and Culture has perhaps a more juridical profile and insists from the outset that "in the need to protect and promote the right to education and the freedom of education, as expressed in the Constitution and in its jurisprudential interpretation". 

"We are concerned." -The Commission, chaired by Bishop Alphonse Carrasco, points out, "that the consequences of these principles be fully reflected in the new law, and in the first place the respect for the responsibility and the rights of parents in the education of their children. If the State has a primary task in defending and promoting the good of education for all, it is not, however, the subject of educational rights".

Next, the text refers to one of the major issues that employers, parents and unions have criticized in the project: the leading role of public administrations to the detriment, and even annulment, of parents' freedom of choice of school, in the programming of school places.  

The bishops point out that "In this same sense, it seems necessary that, unlike the current Bill, the future Law continues to include the 'social demand' in all stages of the educational process, from the freedom to choose a school, which includes free education without discrimination, to the equal treatment of the different centers and the freedom to create them".

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