“TFP Newsletter”, Vol. IV – No. 5 -1984 (www.tfp.org)


Headless Schools in Spain


MOVED by the thrust generated by its radical goal, self-managing socialism has now hurled itself at schools in Spain. This onslaught has been felt more in private schools, where some 3,300,000 students are enrolled, constituting 38% of the coun­try's student population. Most of these schools are maintained by the Catholic Church.

The education reform promoted by the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) violates the freedom of the Church and the inalienable rights of parents to educate their children. Fur­thermore, the Socialist Party aims to gradually impose the self-managing mentality and doctrine on young students through carefully worded slogans.

Everything would lead one to expect a bitter conflict between Catholics and non-Catholics over this matter. Never­theless, looking at the "arena" of this ideological confrontation, one would say the bull is poorly bred and has no horns, while the bullfighter has neither sword nor cape.

On the Catholic side, there were pro­tests from parents, teachers, students, religious men and women and even prelates.

The dispute over the proposed "Organic Law of Education" (LODE) seems to be dominated by the talismanic power of dialogue. Faced only with the smiling complacency of ecclesiastical authorities, the socialist leaders ad­vance on a wide open road. Into what abysses can this dialogue between the Spanish bishops and the PSOE lead Spain?



Lucid But Painful Prediction Of the Spanish TFP


On October 12, 1982, just prior to the national elections, the Spanish TFP published an open letter to the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), "Spanish Socialism and the Traditional Doctrine of the Church." In it the TFP explained the points of the PSOE program, in­cluding education reform, asking Catholics if they knew these points and whether the texts by the PSOE had been well interpreted. Finally, the document expressed the TFP's perplexity at the am­biguous position the Bishops' Con­ference had taken regarding a program so opposed to the Church.

The Socialist Party did not answer the open letter, and the Bishops' Conference failed to make a pronouncement, so the word that could have saved Spain from socialism was not spoken. The PSOE won the elections with the considerable and perhaps decisive support of Catholic voters. From then on the PSOE has been gradually but relentlessly applying its program.



Owners, Teachers and Parents: Heads Roll


On February 28, 1983, the Madrid dai­ly ABC carried a front page story: "No Religion in Schools." Weeks later, the Minister of Education disclosed the socialist plan for education. It begins by enumerating certain principles of self-managing socialism. While in the first steps of the plan's application the state prudently tolerates some vestiges of the former regime, it is given powers to gradually extinguish these remnants. School properties, for the time being, will not be confiscated. However, the owners of private schools, most of which are religious institutions, will be reduc­ed, as one religious put it, to "sweeping the courtyard" and to facing worker tribunals for decisions for which they are not responsible. And the reason they are not responsible is the socialist law prescribes that a "council" (call it a Soviet if you will) will take over the school.

The self-managing council will take over the owner's functions and retain the right to summon him at will without granting him any right to vote. The council, which will be something like an assembly, has a position for a president, a secretary and a headmaster in the state schools and will name a director for the private schools. Furthermore, this little Soviet will be made up of delegates drawn from students, teachers, parents and workers, and a minority represen­tation of the owners.

Will the parents, teachers and students be able to reach an agreement to preserve the autonomy of their schools within the system? The law leaves no room for il­lusions: socialism reserves for itself the regulation of both parent and student associations and instructs its militants to join these associations and tie them to the all-pervading party. What will be the fate of private teachers, reduced by this proposed legislation to the state of public employees, when the socialist union UGT-FETE, in common agreement with the socialist party, brings pressure to bear upon them?



State Omnipotence


Hovering over these myriads of coun­cils is the State School Council, a kind of Supreme Soviet of schools with the participation of union members, repre­sentatives from the federal and pro­vincial governments, universities, teach­ers selected by the Party, and school delegates.

But the school representatives will not be allowed to form a majority. Even the Supreme Council will have no decision-making power: the socialist government will have the final word.

Completing its siege, the socialist plan will cut off all public support or assistance to schools that refuse to cooperate. In order to survive, these schools will have to drastically increase their tuition charges. And in view of the growing tax burden that the regime is heaping upon the taxpayers, very few parents will be able to pay the tuition. The schools that submit will be required to provide free teaching and will be left completely dependent on the socialist government. "As long as there is one single broken window in a public school, we will not give a penny to private schools," threatened socialist leader Victorino Mayoral during the election campaign.



In Spite of the Climate of "Dialogue," Religious Organizations Feel Obliged to React


Both the powerful Spanish Federation of Religious (FERE) that includes priests, religious and nuns dedicated to education, and the Spanish Confedera­tion of Educational Centers (CECE), which includes the majority of private school owners, have maintained an at­titude of dialogue and collaboration with the PSOE on educational matters. This was admitted by Fr. Martinez Fuentes, president of the CECE, and Fr. Aquilino Bocos, president of FERE. The latter let it he understood that the entity over which he presides would be obliged to denounce possible abuses.

The two organizations, while trying to keep up a dialogue with the Socialist Par­ty, made declarations along this line when the shocking news of the propos­ed reform became known to the public.

The Spanish Conference of Bishops, in its 38th Plenary Assembly, issued a statement on the matter. In a bland language hardly proportional to the grave risk to which the Catholic schools are subjected by virtue of the educational reform, the Spanish Hierarchy pointed out that the plan fails to offer guarantees for private schools as regards: 1) The preservation of the autonomy and iden­tity of this kind of educational institu­tion; 2) the preservation of the owners' authority.

In their document, the bishops also la­ment the design of imposing a political model on the schools.

Both FERE and CECE made doctrinal criticisms denouncing the self-managing character of the proposed reform.



Demonstrations of Protest and the Arrogant Attitude of the PSOE


Other organizations have also de­nounced the self-managing basis of the plan: 1) the opposition in the Spanish Cortes; the Federation of Independent Teachers Unions (FSIE), the Catholic Confederation of Parents and Students Associations, and specialized private publications.

Very much annoyed, the Socialist Par­ty stealthily endeavored several times to play down the accusation of self‑management by affirming that the law does not fully implement self-man­agement. Complacently enough, Bishop Yanes, president of the Bishops' Com­mission on Education, stated "in fact, one cannot say that the LODE is a laicist law or that it is a law that imposes self-management in the strict sense."

The dialoguing entente between the bishops' leadership and the Socialist Par­ty was unable to stifle a widespread malaise. Protest demonstrations started to take place. First, hundreds of students manifested their disagreement in front of the Ministry of Education. The socialist authorities, usually so understanding and inclined to dialogue with feminists and homosexuals, ordered the police to break up the students' demonstration. The youths dispersed.

Feeling that it was losing support, the Socialist Party blindly pushed forward the parliamentary debate with great speed despite protests from opposition representatives. It refused to debate the issue on state-controlled TV and threatened to prolong parliamentary debates beyond the Christmas holidays if the proposed law was not approved. Catholic parents demonstrated in Las Palmas, Bilbao, Valencia, Valladolid and Santander. At the same time, the left suffered a significant electoral defeat in Madrid's Complutense University, the largest in the country.

On December 17, hundreds of thou­sands of Catholics marched in the rain in Madrid in protest against the bill. Accor­ding to the march organizers, between 800,000 and 1,000,000 people took part. The socialist-controlled police acknowledged the presence of only 250,000. The marchers carried signs and roared: "Maravall (The Minister of Education), resign! The people reject you!" and "Liberty, yes; LODE, no!"; "Maravall's dictatorship is going to end!"

The government permitted the massive demonstration to last only two hours and the police prevented a few thousand peo­ple from continuing on to the Ministry of Education. Only a few priests and nuns appeared at the protest, and no bishop appeared. The clergy as a whole stood out by their absence.

Something quite different took place at the same time in another part of the Spanish capital. Very early in the morn­ing, a great fire had broken out in discotheque that caused the deaths of 80 people who were under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The Vicar of Madrid went to the morgue to celebrate a Mass for those who had died in that ambience of orgy, and the Archbishop of Madrid himself celebrated a public Mass for those who had died in that censurable place (ABC 12/20/83). But no Mass was celebrated to prevent self-managing socialism from destroying the Catholic schools and taking over the souls of their young students, for that would be harm­ful to the dialogue with the socialist government.

Meanwhile, demonstrations similar to the one in Madrid took place in Barce­lona and Cadiz. 100,000 people par­ticipated in a march in Seville, an elec­toral stronghold of socialism.



Misleading Catholic Reaction: A "School Pact"


Strongly influenced by the bishops, Catholic organizations tried to lead Catholic reaction to a middle-of-the-road position through the so-called School Pact. In practice, this pact ac­cepts all that is essential to the socialist project and proposes co-management as a means (both unacceptable and ineffec­tive) of holding back the slide toward self-management.

The Socialist Party was jubilant at this defeatist proposal and continues its grad­ual advance without making any conces­sions. Resorting to what the people call "the steamroller," the socialists managed to get their proposed law approved in the Chamber of Deputies. The bill is now being debated in the Senate.