Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

New Education Law: chronicle of a lawsuit against the public school

The recently passed Education Act is as bad as it is new. Throughout the processing process there has been a broad social sector against the spirit of this law, and this opposition has been greater in the face of its adoption. We want to make public the assessment and reflection of what happened.

We do not believe that at the last moment accepted or rejected contributions have frustrated the law that until then was good, because from the beginning its approach was harmful to the public school: the law that equips the public and private network will never resist segregation, will not subordinate private interests to the common interest and will not guarantee the right to receive Euskaldun education of all students on an equal footing. In parallel with the first steps towards the drafting of the new law, the Department of Education provided and expanded the educational consultation modules over time, expanded the grants and adapted planning and zoning for the private network. The process of the law has always gone along this privatization line, because the basis is that public and private centers make up the Basque Public Educational Service.

The imposition of the PSE has generated a great stir, which has caused the law to declare that linguistic models are maintained. There has been an unfavourable change and it has forced EH Bildu to vote against, but neither in the 2022 agreement and in the subsequent preliminary draft has any guarantee that Model D will remain an immersion system, or that Models A and B from the private network will be removed. Current miswording does not make previous miswording good. The drafts did not make any progress in the Basque Country.

The law is not based on historical consensus with educational actors, but on the negotiation developed between some parties from autumn 2020, in which the PNV and EH Bildu have praised at least the three-year collaboration. A year after the negotiations, many educational actors (trade unions, employers’ associations, parents’ associations, local platforms, schools, experts… in total, around 90) had the opportunity to receive information and give their opinion in the Basque Parliament’s Committee on Education. The promoters of the law presented as adhesions of the agents what was said in that committee, although on many occasions their total opposition was expressed. In this atmosphere of presumed consensus came the support of 90% of Parliament in April 2022 (which lasted little, because Podemos withdrew in the short term). The representation was ample, sufficient to pass as many laws as desired, but the support of the agents has not materialized at all in the whole process, since in the Basque School Council only the employers have supported the law along with the administration. On the contrary, supporters of the public school have shown their opposition and organized large demonstrations on the street.

The unequal educational system that policies have drawn up in favour of the private network for decades requires urgent measures in favour of the public network and common interests.

This new law will give legal backing to the universal consultation that we have long established in the CAPV. This concertation has allowed an excessive presence of the private network and not the possibilities of families. The unequal educational system that policies have drawn up in favour of the private network for decades requires urgent measures in favour of the public network and of common interests. Institutional planning, zoning and registration campaigns should be geared towards this. Instead, when establishing educational policies, the supposed family choices are used as an excuse to defend the interests of private networks.

The content of the agreement signed in May 2022 by Jokin Bildarratz with most trade unions has nothing to do with the law, but the counselor has used it to point out that the trade unions had assumed them. Only one union signed the general agreement with the Department of Education in May 2023 in Arantzazu.

The approaches that have been put on the table in this process, and those that are included in the law, are those demanded throughout history by private education employers. In the CAPV, there are multiple employers, develop multiple educational models, but they belong to the same network and all of them are interested in receiving more money, even to the detriment of the public network. This law shields the interests of the entire private network at a time when the birth rate drops. We believe that the most effective tool to deal with doctrinating, Castilian or segregating centers is to maintain a single, Euskaldun public network, democratically managed and endowed with sufficient resources. We have a long way to go, and it is time to get it going.

In summary, we consider that this law is a law without social consensus and little consensus, which, being privatized from the first draft, will not be effective in ending segregation and will not guarantee the euskaldunization of all students. This law goes against public school and public school is against this law.

The Harro Meeting Centre of the Basque Public School has fought over these years for a public school for all, as the axis of the system. In this way, although the recently passed law is an obstacle, we will continue to bet on the public, consolidating the community of the public network and attracting as many forces as possible.

Arantza Fernández de Garaialde and José Manuel Martínez, members of Harro of the Basque Public School

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