New storm in education. And once again, the reason must not be sought so much in the decisions adopted, as in the moment and manner in which they were taken. For the second year, this time without the presence of President Pere Aragonès, the Minister of Education, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, has announced the start date of the 2023-2024 academic year, by surprise and without tying previous complicities with the educational community. This same unleashed a protest of historic dimensions last year.
The climate is different now, with the pandemic already forgotten. But the shapes are similar. And it is not the date, already assumed by the sector, the first week of September, but the moment - before the union table is held in which the labor details that it implies are discussed (convened for today) - and without having discussed the concerns of the sector exposed within the School Council (CEC). In fact, Educació canceled the meeting it had called on Wednesday with the Consell.
Because right now? What presses the department? The reason why the information was given yesterday and not after the debate that the educational community asks to celebrate is a mystery that remained unresolved yesterday no matter how much journalists asked about it.
The forms did not fit well either. Cambray explained that he resolved the school start date "the result of an open dialogue process with community representatives."
He added that a working group of center directors was set up and that the CEC presented a report on the assessment of the September afternoons. This is a report, requested by the minister, which more than agreements reflects the diversity of opinions and the numerous details that the community considers it should be tied up.
"The announcement is a mockery," UGT snapped. "He lies when he talks about dialogue," said CC.OO. "Once again the calendar order announced to the press and before negotiating at the sectoral table," protested Ustec-stes, whose members rushed with whistles and signs to protest at the Department's headquarters.
The decision on the date was being assessed within the Consell, which on Wednesday wanted to be able to minimize their concerns (air conditioning in the classrooms for the hot months, July training for teachers, time to prepare the course...). This is expressed in the report that the CEC, at the request of the Minister, delivered to the Department and which was voted in favor by 19 members (equivalent to the representatives of the administration), 15 against and 3 abstentions. It had numerous individual votes from teachers, directors and families. But it is the one that the minister has wielded to affirm the existence of the dialogue.
The dates are already set, even though the calendar order has not been published. This is no less a legal matter, a letter that some members of the CEC keep to themselves.
The order requires the opinion of the CEC, which is not binding, although it is perceptive and if it is not signed it could put the Government in trouble. The ordinary procedure does not require a prior report from the CEC, as the Ministry has requested this year.
According to the Education Law, and what has been done so far, the department prepares a calendar order that it delivers to the School Council, as an advisory body. The latter responds with an opinion (favorable or unfavorable) and the Government publishes the order.
Minister Cambray explained that he set the 6th as a Solomonic decision. "It is always difficult to agree between families and unions and we have taken the path in the middle," he argued at the press conference.
In reality, the families had not set a specific date, they wanted to start the course "as soon as possible", but full time, so as not to repeat the September afternoons, more used by the subsidized than by the public.
They evaded proposing a date and said "as soon as possible" so that the optimal conditions for the schools are given. It had to be, yes, in the first week of the month, adapting to the demands of the Government. The unions did set a date, September 8, Friday, to have five days of preparation for the course.
The school directors also asked for time to hold meetings and prepare the classrooms and, if they did not have those five days, they asked to agree on a legal framework to be able to demand the presence of teachers in July at the center. This is not possible without changing the calendar order of the current course that covers until August and a modification would require its passage through the CEC.
The unions are the ones that have made this decision the worst. The largest association Affac valued the measure positively, although it asked to be able to put the climate emergency plan on the table and adapt the classrooms to the heat. For its part, the Confederació Cristiana d'Associacions de Pares i Mares d'Alumnes de Catalunya (CCAPAC), which represents the ampas of 300 schools, views positively the progress of the course and that it begins full-time. The president of the entity, Mar Pla, states, however, that the measure would have been agreed and regretted that the request to guarantee 4 or 5 days in September to prepare the course has not been "respected".
Cambray said yesterday that the changes in the calendar "have come to stay" because the department wants to dedicate "energy to educational transformation." Thus, to avoid future conflicts with the community, the courses will always begin on the fourth business day of September.