April 18, 2024

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The Constitutional Court has decided to give full endorsement to the Lomloe (Organic Law of Modification of the Organic Law of Education), better known as celáa law, which will lead to a change in the draft sentence that had been prepared by the rapporteur, Judge Ricardo Enríquez, from the conservative sector of the court. The draft of the ruling was prepared a year and a half ago, but until now it has never been brought to plenary session as the guarantee body itself is fully aware that the deliberation was going to provoke a deep internal confrontation, given that it was in the phase end of the previous term, with a conservative majority, critical of the Celaá law.

This situation has changed since last January, when the renewal of the court has meant a change of balance in the court, in which there is now a progressive majority that in its latest sentences is endorsing all the important social reforms translated into laws promoted by the government throughout this legislature. This same week, the Constitutional Court has issued several rulings that have rejected unconstitutionality appeals from the PP and/or Vox, such as those related to the first decree-law on equal rights in companies ―which meant the equalization of maternity and paternity―, or the euthanasia law, on which the court has declared that it guarantees the self-determination of the person without undermining the right to life.

To these decisions of endorsement of the Government’s social legislation is now added the declaration of constitutionality of the Celaa law, through a sentence that is going to be redrafted. The objective of this new preparation of the ruling is to avoid the two points in which the first draft questioned the fit of the law with the constitutional provisions. These points were, on the one hand, those related to subsidies to educational centers that segregate students by sex. The sentence, therefore, will not consider contrary to the Constitution that the public powers can manage the resources in accordance with their priorities, and that this operates to the detriment of the subsidies to said type of educational centers. The Constitutional, in short, will say at the time that it is not contrary to the Constitution to deny public aid to schools that separate by sex.

The second point of contention that questioned the draft ruling that is now going to be changed implied that the Administration is only obliged to take into account the will of the families of students with special needs who want to educate them in ordinary centers. What is expected is that the opinion of families who prefer to opt for a specific center is also taken into account.

On the other hand, the new text will not allude to an alleged discrimination of Castilian in the educational system. The challenge to the law included this point, but the initial presentation already avoided reopening the debate on the linguistic question when deciding on the Celaá law. The paper that the Constitutional Court has rejected today was limited in this regard to underlining the relevance of the presence of Spanish as the vehicular language in education, without entering into any regulation of percentages. This issue is already raised in other appeals that the court has pending, such as those relating to Catalan legislation on the matter, in which it has avoided following the pattern set by rulings of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia that set a 25 % the percentage of said presence of Spanish in the educational system of said autonomous community. The Generalitat, on the other hand, has always advocated prioritizing the autonomy of the centers, according to their sociological circumstances, in relation to the linguistic question.

The new ruling will be drafted by the same speaker, Judge Ricardo Enríquez, assuming the criteria of the majority of the court. This position is compatible with the fact that the same magistrate later writes a dissenting opinion, in which he explains his personal criteria. Surely it will not be the only vote against the sentence. The other three magistrates from the conservative sector of the court, Concepción Espejel, Enrique Arnaldo and César Tolosa, have expressed throughout the debate on the law their agreement with the speaker and, therefore, their discrepancy with the legal criteria of the current progressive majority of the guarantee body, in particular with the point that will mean the endorsement to deny public aid to centers that segregate students by sex.

The Lomloe, which entered into force at the beginning of 2021, is the eighth educational law of democracy, reports Ignacio Zafra. The most important change that it has introduced and that has barely begun to be deployed is that of a new competency approach, which changes the old educational model based on memorizing content for a learning oriented so that students know how to apply their knowledge to solving problems. situations as similar as possible to those that will be found in real life. The partisan, social and judicial debate focused, however, on the usual: the status of the private and concerted school, the subject of Religion (which with the Lomloe ceased to count for the academic record) and the public financing of the schools that segregate by sex.

The main employers of the concerted force strongly opposed the processing of the law, warning that it endangered its viability. The main point of friction was the fact that the Lomloe eliminated the concept of “social demand”, introduced by the PP in the previous education law, the Lomce, as a criterion for organizing the supply of educational places. This limited the capacity of the autonomous governments when designing it. And, in a context of falling birth rates, it had promoted the closure of public school classrooms even in territories in favor of it, after the courts revoked the reduction of subsidized units decreed by the respective ministries due to the decrease of students The then Minister of Education became especially the target of criticism from the representatives of the concerted school and the right-wing parties, her image suffered great wear, and a few months after the entry into force of the law she was relieved by the current holder of the portfolio, Pilar Alegría.

The ruling also clears up doubts about the constitutionality of the prohibition, established by Lomloe, of the financing of educational centers that segregate by sex, normally linked to Opus Dei. Most of the autonomous communities have begun to withdraw the concerts as the duration of those that were already in force when Lomloe came into force are expiring. But the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia had halted the steps taken by the Generalitat in this direction, claiming that the Constitutional Court had yet to rule on the matter. And the Superior Court of Navarra had raised a question of unconstitutionality when seeing reasons to think that said precept discriminated against segregating schools.

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