LOMCE, the educational reform in Spain

Protest in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Carlos Rosillo

November 14, 2016

I have met Uxía about half a year ago online. She is from Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It turned out that our interests are similar and that we are both outgoing people. To this day, we follow each other on Instagram and occasionally exchange snaps on Snapchat about things that we consider cool. For example, she is an aspiring make-up artist, so from time to time she sends me snaps of her horror make-up. To be honest, it’s unfair to call her an ‘aspiring’ artist, because she is legitimately amazing at what she does. One time she made her make-up look like a pencil pierced her nose. It was super realistic and horrifying! Blood looked like it was real, but she quickly wiped it off her face and everything went back to normal. It is a huge relief that she presents her work with a smile, because her horror make-up can give someone a heart attack. That’s how good she is.

Yesterday, her snap told me that she will be protesting the next day. It did not seem like she was in danger or anything (and she is not), but it caught my attention because I was not aware of any sort of protest currently going on in Spain. I was also worried about her safety. Although generally protests in Western Europe tend to be more peaceful than here in the United States, I was still worried about her safety. I got curious and we agreed to discuss the protest over Skype today.

Apparently, a law was passed in Spain by the Popular Party (PP) in November of 2013 and it’s now coming into effect. The law is called LOMCE (Ley Orgánica para la Mejora de la Calidad Educative), a Law for Improving Educational Quailty. Although LOMCE was opposed by other parties and was met with many protests, PP passed the law due to having a majority in the parliament of Spain.

The main concern that Uxía and other protesters have with the law is the monetization of the exam that people must take at the end of bachillerato (a two-year preparatory school for those who want to attend Universities to earn higher degrees). She sadly stated that “in the end it all comes down to money.” She feels that it is unfair that only those who have money can achieve higher education. The monetization of the exam heavily reminded me of the SAT in the United States. To get a good job, most people need to attend a 4-year university, and in order to apply to any university an SAT score is required. During my own SAT experience in high school I have also felt that the standardized tests were unfair because we had to pay for them. After all, SATs aren’t even governed by the fed, but by a private nonprofit corporation called College Board. Education should not be a business.

The other concern of the protesters is the ‘6th Hour Rule’, a new law that limits the number of courses you can take to six hours in total. It greatly impacts students’ interests and focus of their education. In Uxía’s case, she is currently taking eleven hours of assignatura, or courses. She has three 3-hour artistic courses, 1-hour cinema course, and a 1-hour religion course. If the 6th Hour Rule comes into effect, then Uxía will have to sacrifice some of the courses that she is studying. The problem lies with the fact that the religion course is required with one of the artistic courses that she is studying. It means that she would not be able to fit a second 3-hour artistic course into a 6-hour schedule, because 1-hour religion course with a 3-hour artistic course would comprise a 4-hour schedule that would leave only a 2-hour remainder slot. The fact that religion is required seems unfair and undemocratic to her.

We did not have enough time to discuss every intricacy of the problem, but I did inquire about the process of the protests. I learned that to protest they need an authorization slip signed by the parents. It seemed like a great idea, because I thought that it is nice for the teachers and parents to know the location of the students. Uxía agreed on that point, but also pointed out that because they sign the authorization slips, the government is always prepared for their protests. Therefore, their protests have little effect, since the government is not surprised at all. Other than that, she said that during protests they tend to hold big signs in public places, they sing songs, they talk to the people on the streets, and they write about it in papers. Generally, most protests are peaceful, but sometimes someone might throw a bottle or something to that effect.

Overall, it was an interesting conversation to have. I learned a lot and it prompted me to research LOMCE online. From what I learned from Uxía and the internet, it seems that these days a similar trend of conservatism is going on throughout the whole world. Whether it is the United States, Spain, or any other country, conservatism is on the rise. Under the guise of reforms and fear, the politicians are doing anything they can to mooch off the public. Costs of education are rising and the teachers aren’t getting paid more. In fact, according to Valerie Strauss, in my home state of North Carolina the attrition rate of teachers “has risen four times in the past five years.” If you are a student in Spain and previously there was no need to pay for the test, then why should you suddenly pay for it? Not taking this test will prevent any aspiring doctors or architects from achieving their dream. It all comes down to the government taking away the freedom of choosing a profession. It is a question of democracy and equality. At this point it is impossible to reverse on Brexit or stop the presidency of Trump, but the next best thing that the young generation, including Uxía, can do is to make their voices heard. After all, it is their future, and their hopes and dreams.

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