The battle that the parents of a Madrid school won so that it was not bilingual

The requirements for a Madrid public school or institute to become part of the bilingual network they’re clear. To join the program in English, the decision must have the majority support of the teaching staff and the School Council, made up of the management of the center, teachers, parents and students.

When, in January 2018, the CEIP Alejandro Rubio, in Guadalix de Sierra (Madrid), submitted the proposal to a vote, in the cloister there were only 11 votes in favor and 22 against. And in the School Council, it was also rejected by 5 votes in favor and 8 against. With this scrutiny, therefore, it was clear that this Madrid center would not be included in the program.

However, to everyone’s surprise, the project had started. The director of the school, who is still in charge of it, submitted the application to join the program, although he did not meet the requirements demanded by the Madrid Ministry of Education. And this, after weighing the plan of the center, as it does with all the requests, approved that together with others 24 educational centers, the Alejandro Rubio school will be part of the network of bilingual schools in the Community of Madrid in the 2018-2019 academic year.

The astonishment among teachers, parents and students who, just a few weeks before had voted otherwise, was capital, he recalls Paula Lopez, then president of the AMPA, in an interview with EL ESPAÑOL. And especially his, because he had barely been in charge of the association of fathers and mothers for a month, and everything “came to him suddenly.”

The battle

The CEIP Alejandro Rubio, in Guadalix de la Sierra (Madrid).

However, it was clear to him. With 61% of the Cloister and more than 57% of the School Council, in addition to all the AMPAAgainst Alejandro Rubio implementing the bilingual program, there was no other alternative: he would fight to the end so that bilingualism did not reach the school.

The first step was to ask the school director for explanations, who, according to Paula, in a meeting assured parents that the Community of Madrid itself, led that year by Cristina Cifuentes placeholder image and whose counselor of Education was Raphael of Greeks, she had been the main interested in the college applying.

Perplexed by this statement, the president of the AMPA asked the Madrid center for the certificates of the votes of the cloister and the School Council, which confirmed the refusal, and together with a colleague requested a meeting with a department of the Ministry of Education. “What they tried to tell us is that the requirements were a bit sui generis and that the administration could basically do whatever it wanted. ”

And that’s when Paula López decided to take out all the artillery. “We issued a press release and began to file appeals daily,” he recalls. One by one, the parents sent their claims through appeals to the offices of the department headed by Rafael Van Grieken, denouncing that the administration had broken its own regulations. However, what made them win, admits the former president of the AMPA, was that the news jumped to the media.

“The answer on Thursday was that the school was going to enter the bilingual program yes or yes and on Friday, that they were going to review it. What happened? At a press conference, a journalist asked Van Grieken about the controversy and that made them react, “López tells this newspaper.

“Error in the assessment”

Archive image of a teacher giving a class

Archive image of a teacher giving a class

The following day, the Ministry of Education answered the parents and admitted that “there had been an error in the punctuation.” Shortly after, the Community of Madrid made it public and admitted that the score obtained by the project presented by the director of Alejandro Rubio had been insufficient because there was “a material error in the assessment.” In any case, the families of the center were unable to access the director’s project or the assessment made by the administration at any time, despite the fact that they are public documents.

The victory was thus settled for the fathers and mothers of Guadalix de la Sierra, who at all times refused the bilingual program for three reasons. The first, that the school had its own English program that worked well; the second, that the plan segregated the students and the third, that far from learning English, the students did not acquire knowledge, but memorized.

Reasons that, three years after this controversy, are still on the lips of many parents who are fighting to eliminate the bilingual program at the school where their children study. Achieving this, however, is more complicated. The parents of CEIP Alejandro Rubio were able to stop the incorporation of the center to the bilingual program, but when the school is inside, in many cases it is impossible to leave it. The Community of Madrid, according to various experts pointed out to this newspaper, does not have any “official mechanism” to abandon the program.

No option to leave

They do, however, regions like Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha or Navarra, where in the last two years almost 90 schools and institutes have abandoned the bilingual program. According to some managers of these centers to EL ESPAÑOL, in most cases, the students found themselves with a vocabulary and grammar in Science (Science, in English) much more advanced than that of the English subject itself, and therefore, it was difficult for them to understand the lessons and they ended up memorizing the contents.

For you to understand more easily. While the student was learning the present simple or colors in the subject of English, he found the present perfect and passive sentences to understand the functioning of the human body in the book of Science. Something completely absurd.

“Being aware that there was a great gap between the students, we decided to take the matter to the teaching staff and the school council, where it was voted unanimously to leave the program. What the students really need is linguistic proficiency in a foreign language , not in Science, learn to hold a conversation in English and not how to say a seagull, when they have never seen one in Valladolid, “said Henar Rubio, director of the Valladolid public school Antonio Allué Morer, who left the program a year ago.

Faced with all these problems, the most serious thing is that many parents are forced to take their children to bilingual schools without wanting to, according to Carmen Morillas, president of the Regional Federation of Associations of Parents of the Francisco Giner Alumnado de the rivers (FAPA). “Many tell us that if, for example, there are 3 schools in their neighborhood, they are all bilingual, and they have to comer even if they don’t want to, because they can’t take them anywhere else. Sure, what other option do they have? Then they call, when they finish elementary school, to ask what they have to do to get them out of the bilingual program. ”

In Morillas’s opinion, the boom of bilingualism, to which the autonomous communities began to adhere in the early 2000s, is due to the fact that many regions, including Madrid, carried out a great marketing campaign. “Of course, how can a father not want the best for his children? The general criterion of parents was to trust at that time. However, over time they have seen what was really happening,” he says.

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