“TFP Newsletter”, Vol. IV – No. 5 -1984 (www.tfp.org)
MOVED by the thrust generated by its radical goal,
self-managing socialism has now hurled itself at schools in
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
Lucid But Painful Prediction Of the Spanish TFP
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
Owners, Teachers and Parents: Heads Roll
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?
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
On December 17, hundreds of thousands of Catholics
marched in the rain in
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
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.