Jessica Mouzo Quintáns
J. J. Gálvez
Barcelona / Madrid 25 APR 2019 – 21:24 CEST
Nine years, six months and nine days. That is the time it has taken the Constitutional Court (TC) to resolve the appeal filed in 2009 by the PP against the Education Law of Catalonia (LEC) that fostered the current language regime in the community. A regulation that has been practically endorsed by the judges of the high court, who have only canceled 10 articles and have not addressed the issue of the exclusion of Castilian as a vehicular language, since the point that addressed that aspect was not included in the appeal. Of course, in line with previous pronouncements, the judges remember that the State must ensure that Castilian is vehicular, as is Catalan.
Pupils of a primary education class. CARLES RIBAS
New chapter in the battle in the courts about Catalan education. The PP presented an appeal against the LEC a decade ago; this law foresees that Catalan is the vehicular language in the community, despite the fact that the Constitutional Court has already sentenced that Castilian must also have this category. The PP considered that several articles excluded the Castilian: among others, those that regulated the curricula of education of languages, contents and time frame; as well as the linguistic support to children who come from outside the community to know Catalan. But the TC rejects that these precepts, as they are worded, fail to comply with the Fundamental Law. And, in addition, it does not address article 11 – which explicitly refers to Catalan as a vehicular language – because the conservative party did not appeal against that point.
Thus, for example, on the linguistic support to newcomers, the LEC pointed out that “the centers must provide them with a personalized welcome and, in particular, a linguistic attention that allows them to start learning in Catalan”. The PP considered that this wording excluded Castilian as the vehicular language of the system, but the Constitutional court does not accept this thesis. In fact, the magistrates emphasize that, as it is worded, it cannot be understood that “the right to learn Spanish is also neglected, a language that, obviously, immigrant students can also ignore”. Moreover, the resolution adds, “it is noteworthy that the precept itself explicitly obliges the centers to program the necessary activities to ensure that all students progressively improve their knowledge of the two official languages”.
The PP also appealed against article 9 of the LEC, which attributes to the Catalan Government the capacity to regulate the linguistic regime, that is, to determine the curricula of language teaching, its objectives and contents, and to regulate the time schedule. The popular party opposed this point because they understood that state competences were invaded. However, the Constitutional court understands that it is a shared regulation, that the law only refers to the points which can be addressed by the autonomous community and that, therefore, it is not necessary for the Catalan norm to make a specific reference to the basic legislation of the state.
The Government celebrates the ruling
The popular party did not present an appeal against Article 11, which is the one that refers, specifically, to Catalan as a vehicular language in education. And, for that reason, the TC does not pronounce itself in this regard. Of course, it makes clear several times in the resolution that “it is consolidated doctrine the fact that corresponds to the State to ensure respect for linguistic rights in the education system and, in particular, to receive education in the official language of the State”.
The ten canceled items:
• Planning of the subjects. The PP filed an appeal against a block of articles addressing the “planning of the subjects” for invading state powers by copying or disregarding national regulations. At this point, part of articles 52, 58, 59, 61, 65 and 68 are canceled.
• Teachers and other professionals. The court declares unconstitutional part of four articles of the law (112, 117, 120 and 121) that reordered, for example, the teaching staff provided by state law.
Despite all this, the Constitutional has annulled 10 articles and an additional provision of the LEC that do not conform to state regulations, are repetitive or invade it. They are, for example, those that have to do with regulatory aspects of primary, secondary, hich school, or with teaching staff. Thus, the TC annuls article 52.1, on the educational curriculum, because “it induces confusion about the current content of the state base”. The high court also declares Article 58 unconstitutional, for example, “because it is an incomplete reproduction of the state bases”.
The Minister of Education of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Josep Bargalló, has indicated that the annulment of these articles and, as a whole, the ruling of the TC will not imply changes in the educational practice. Bargalló has assured that, if there is a need to modify the LEC, changes would be “in issues of theoretical nature, not in questions of practice of the educational system, because the sentence does not modify anything of the actual practice”. In fact, the head of Education has celebrated that “the sentence does not alter anything regarding the linguistic model”.
Bargalló has, however, asked to wait for the results of the general elections next Sunday to see if they have to “substantially change the LEC”. “The LEC was passed at the time when the Spanish law was the LOE. The challenges in the appeal were made based on the LOE, but now, as the law in force is the LOMCE, the resolution of the TC is made based on the LOMCE, which means that we have a kind of schizophrenia to understand the sentence, and everything points to the fact that the result of the elections, whatever it may be, will lead to a new change of legislation. If next week the LOMCE is revoked then we would have to go to the TC and ask them to rewrite the sentence”, he said.
What the minister has most regretted, however, is that the sentence continues “with the will of the TC to set educational bases for the entire State, which makes what can be done in Catalonia very limited”.
The appeal against the abortion law is now the longest pending
The decision of the Constitutional Court (TC) on the Catalan education law in 2009 has taken so long to arrive – nine years, six months and nine days – that it had already become the unconstitutionality appeal that had been stored in a drawer for the longest time. But, finally, this Thursday the ruling has arrived. And, now, that first place in the ranking is occupied by the appeal filed on June 1, 2010 against the abortion law approved by the socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.