Catalan schools, a political target since 2006

The PP, with its petition of signatures against the Statute, opened the door to discrediting language immersion

The offensive against education in Catalonia didn't begin last week -- when Xavier Garcia Albiol said that "the majority of public schools in Catalonia" were educating children "to hate Spain"-- or even with the start of the so-called independence Process in 2012. The strategy to discredit Catalonia’s education model began long before that.

The beginning of this offensive dates back to 2006, when the Catalan government approved the Statute of Autonomy with 89% of parliamentary votes in favor. The only party that opposed the text was the Popular Party (PP). Among other measures, the Statue provided that Catalan would be "the language of instruction in university and non-university education". It was then that the PP began an offensive to topple the Catalan charter --led by Javier Arenas, then-president of the PP in Andalusia -- and initiated its famous collection of signatures against the Statute. In that context, several Andalusian media broadcast an ad with the following dialogue: "Did you know that if we move from Andalusia to Catalonia our son will have to study Catalan? In Catalonia it's a requirement to study in Catalan and not in Spanish, which is everyone's language". A second voice asked: "Why?" And the first voice answered: "Because Zapatero agreed and Chaves accepted”.

With over 4 million signatures collected throughout Spain, the PP filed an appeal of unconstitutionality against the new Statute. Despite the fact that the Constitutional Court (TC) accepted Catalan as a vehicular language in education, it laid the first stone in the persecution of Catalonia's language: the judges declared the adjective "preferential" unconstitutional, when the Statute argued that Catalan had to be the language of public administration and public media.

The founding of Ciudadanos in 2006, with a young Albert Rivera at the helm, had much to do with the offensive against Catalan in the school system. The first elections in which it ran were the Catalan elections of September 8, 2006. In its electoral platform the language question was the second point in order of importance. It read “we reject the identification of Catalonia with one language". The fight against the Catalan model of language immersion in Catalan ideologically marked the first years of Ciudadanos.

The overwhelming victory by the PP in the 2011 Spanish elections -- in which it achieved an absolute majority-- gave a free pass to Rajoy to move forward with any initiative, especially those focused on recentralization. One of these was the famous organic law for improving educational quality (LOMCE), also known as the Wert Law. Promoted by José Ignacio Wert, the Spanish Minister of Education, the LOMCE established Spanish as the "language of instruction in schools across Spain", while the co-official languages in the various autonomous communities lost their lead in education. In 2012, in a controversial appearance by Minister Wert in Congress, in response to criticisms of the LOMCE from the opposition --especially from Catalan parties--, he admitted that his objective with this law was to "Spanish-ize the Catalan children".

25% of classes in Spanish

In 2014, several families demanded that the Generalitat guarantee schooling in Spanish for their children. These families lodged appeals with the Catalan Superior Court of Justice (TSJC), which issued the controversial resolution known as "if one student asks for it". In other words, if a single family wanted their child to be taught in Spanish, then the entire class had to be taught in Spanish. If this wasn't possible, the TSJC allowed for the alternative that the Generalitat pay 6,000 euros to each one of these students so that they could be taught in Spanish in a private school.

"Indoctrination" in textbooks

The last front against education in Catalonia opened by Mariano Rajoy's government was focused on the "political indoctrination" that supposedly existed in primary school history textbooks. The legal complaint was presented by the teachers union Action for the Improvement of Secondary Education (AMES), which had links to Catalan Civil Society (SCC) and Ciudadanos, in March of the same year. Days later, Spain’s Ombudsman —and his Catalan counterpart— found that in the last five years there had been no complaints about the contents of textbooks.

The Statute approved by Congress said that Catalan was the "preferential" language of the public administration and media, but in 2010 the TC ruled the adjective as unconstitutional. It was the first wave in the assault on Catalan.

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