The ‘parental pin’: an authoritarian attack against democratic values


In order to understand in depth the implications of the so-called “parental pin” , it is first necessary to understand what the purposes of the public school are.

Although it is very common to think that the work of the compulsory public school is formative, it is not so. Its primary function, and the explanation of why all the governments of the countries invest an important part of their GDP in creating a public education system, has to do with article 14 of the Spanish Constitution :

“Spaniards are equal before the law, without any discrimination based on birth, race, sex, religion, opinion or any other personal or social condition or circumstance.”

The role of education

The main function of education in our country is what in the pedagogical literature has come to be called “social function of the school” (not to be confused with socialization) and that has to do with “social justice” and with “compensating social inequalities “ .

This function is included in practically all the educational laws of Spain from the EGB. In the LOMCE it appears more widely in the modifications that it introduces in article 2, “Purposes”, and which begins by saying:

“The Spanish education system, configured in accordance with the values ​​of the Constitution and based on respect for the rights and freedoms recognized in it, is inspired by the following principles:…”

And among these principles, the same law highlights in this regard the B:

“Equity, which guarantees equal opportunities, educational inclusion, non-discrimination and universal accessibility, and acts as a compensatory element for personal, cultural, economic and social inequalities, with special attention to those arising from disability.”

Socially depressed environments

That this comes so clearly explained in the legislation is easily understandable: those children born in a privileged sociocultural environment would not need school; Your family could take care of your education (either personally or by your financial means). However, if I am born in a socio-culturally depressed place, my family could not offer me a quality education.

If we imagine a girl whose family is large, with parents who do not have primary education, with limited cultural and economic resources, who spends much of the day away from home in a socially depressed neighborhood, we would see that the education that family could offer (saving honorable exceptions) would be very lacking.

When born in an environment like this, the welfare state has a duty to compensate for these cultural inequalities of origin (as is reflected in the article of the Constitution that we saw at the beginning).

And it is in the public school, with educational professionals, where children of all socio-educational levels can be taken care of and can develop with equal opportunities. It is in this public education where the values, contents and competencies are developed that the society as a whole has democratically decided that they are necessary for the individuals who compose it.

Put private values ​​before public ones

The measure of the “parental pin” is an authoritarian break with this decision as a society. It means the preposition of private values ​​and without consensus against democratically agreed public values: those that are part of the school curriculum.

Protected under the fallacy of the search for an objective education – education, as much as we feel, it is always political and always ideological – another one equally charged with ideology is encouraged, but which is not explicit and much less consensual. Objectivity is promulgated to us, but education, per se , is an ideological act . The difference is whether this ideology is explicitly and democratically agreed or not.

Are they “our” children?

The main argument of the “parental pin” is based on “the right to decide because they are our sons and daughters” This argument is more than questionable for several reasons:

  1. In the first place, what is sought with this measure is to prioritize an ideology, that of fathers and mothers, as opposed to another, that of society, and that is specified in the contents of compulsory public education. Function, now yes, socializing of the school, by which the children learn the norms, customs, etc., of the culture in which they develop and do not decide families, but our welfare state. Hence an educational law is made with content, competencies, etc. And so it is also included in our educational laws.

    For example, the LOMCE affirms in its article 6 that “it will correspond to the Government: to determine the common contents, the evaluable learning standards and the minimum teaching hours of the core subject block…”. That is, it is the State that must guarantee the development of the values, contents, etc. that, as a society, we have agreed in a democratic way. And that does it through the public school. To ensure that all our sons and daughters have access to them.

  2. Second, above the right of families over their sons and daughters, is the right of the minor. To understand it better: that they are my children does not give me the right to do whatever I want with them. They are not my property.

    The “parental pin” is a measure to impose values ​​and contents that are not part of the public consensus, but of the private sphere of the family. It is a way to skip this consensus as a society and, in this sense, it has to do with authoritarianism.

  3. Pero, además de este ataque a los valores que como sociedad hemos decidido de forma democrática, representa un ataque directo a la educación pública y los profesionales que en ella ejercen su trabajo. Abiertamente se nos dice que estos profesionales adoctrinan a nuestros hijos e hijas en determinados temas. Y lo hacen porque imparten enseñanza sobre lo que legalmente viene recogido en el currículum, pero en contra de lo que, de forma privada, algunas familias piensan. Y a eso lo llaman adoctrinamiento, cuestionando la figura de un profesorado, más que nunca, necesitado del reconocimiento social de su labor pero, sobre todo, conocedor de los procedimientos específicos sobre qué y cómo se educa.

It is necessary to be critical of the work of the school, but we must recognize the value of public school teachers in our country, constantly overwhelmed by continued criticism of their work.

Author Bio: Manuel Fernández Navas is a Assistant Professor Doctor of the Department of Didactics and School Organization at the University of Malaga