Sunday, July 3

The mediocrity of Ayuso’s educational model

If anything characterizes public education in Madrid, it is low investment, the high presence of the private sector and strong school segregation. All this has reduced the weight of the public network. And of course, screwing up public education has consequencesbecause you start by privatizing and cutting back on education and you end up in the queue for quality.

It is a scandal that Madrid, being the region with the highest GDP, is the one that spends the least on education. Studies say that school success is directly proportional to per capita income and to issues as specific as the square meters of library that a family has. Madrid breaks this rule despite its advantageous starting social position: the richest autonomous community obtains weak results in the objective tests that allow comparisons to be made. The data shows that the right despises education, in addition to using it to confront the central government and generate conflict as it does with its anti-LOMLOE crusade. Let’s see.

1. The results of the selectivity (Evau) of 2021 could not be more mediocre. The Community of Madrid occupies the penultimate position in average grades, having fallen from position number 8 to 15. With the same Evau as always that examines the students of a curriculum of minimum and common contents (60%) and a part that depends on the autonomous community (40%), without being able to there are big differences between them. And it cannot be argued that the level of demand is higher in Madrid. The data deny it because one thing is political propaganda and another is the fruits of reality.

2. The results of the last PISA report before the pandemic turned on all the red lights. 2018 data They were very bad for Madrid, which fell in the three exams compared to 2015: Sciences (-29 points), Mathematics (-17 points) and Language or reading comprehension (-46 points), falling from the top of the table to the middle-low. These results reveal a decline in equity in Madrid, something that has been continuously worsening.

What happens is not strange. The Swedish experience reflects the same. The educational system has been privatized since 1991 with public money through a system of school vouchers that there are called “free choice” vouchers. This has caused PISA results to plummet, increased differences in knowledge between schools and increased school segregation. Andreas Schleicher (OECD) says that it has gone from “looking at Sweden as the gold standard of education” to a “system that seems to have lost its soul”.

The question is why, being Madrid the richest community in Spain, does it obtain such gray results? The explanation is an explosive cocktail: miserable investment and high segregation produced by the great weight of the concerted network, the single district and the bilingual model. The PP and Ayuso are clear: they subordinate education to business and sell schools to investment funds. Just look at the movement of educational speculators and the large number of ownership changes (over a hundred) in the last decade.

Regarding educational investment, Madrid spends 2.2% of its GDP compared to 4.2% on average in Spain and 7% in leading European countries such as Finland. It is an incontestable fact, however measured. If we look at educational spending in 2021 per inhabitant, it would be 759 euros/year, compared to 1,076 euros on average in Spain. And if we compare it in expenditure per student, it is 4,727 euros/year compared to an average in Spain of 5,779 euros or 9,298 euros in the Basque Country. That Madrid is last in education investment shows how little the regional government cares about education.

Educational segregation is brutal and a deliberate strategy that translates into social inequality. Reliable studies indicate this. ESADE and Save The Children point out that segregation in the Community of Madrid “it has grown remarkably and is today one of the most segregated regions in the entire OECD”. It is a multiple segregation, but especially socioeconomic. The research by F. Javier Murillo and Cynthia Martínez-Garrido from the Autonomous University of Madrid concludes that the Community of Madrid is the second region in Europe with the highest socioeconomic segregation in Secondary Education. A single fact about the imbalance of attention to students with school support needs: public schools educate three out of four immigrant students.

Segregation is always social and obeys a class model, although Ayuso denies the existence of classes. To avoid social mixing, the student body is selected and disguised in a cynical discourse on meritocracy to defend and perpetuate the privileges of the elites. Rich schools where only the children of the rich go are financed with public money, resources intended for equity are stolen and those who fail are blamed. Every teacher knows how the context and social origin condition academic results. There is no equality of opportunity if education is not a right but a service that buys whoever can.

Experts say that if the principle of student heterogeneity is broken, educational quality is reduced in global terms. Although in global terms the average grades of the two networks are quite similar, those of the public network have more merit and value because it does not select students by socio-economic level and because it assumes that the vast majority have special educational needs. Lastly, there is a clue about educational quality: the best grade in the Evau is always that of public education students.

All these data are a slap in the face to the propaganda of the Government of Madrid. How long are they going to continue denying the data and hiding the contempt for education due to incompetence and interests? Why, instead of addressing these problems, does Ayuso propose to censor textbooks? They are useless attempts and without path to invented problems. The main consequence of destroying public education is a mediocre educational model that the people of Madrid do not deserve and that mortgages our future as a society. The alternative is very clear: triple investment, strengthen public education and increase equity.



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