“CONVERSACIONES CON MI MAESTRA. Dudas y certezas sobre la educación” Catherine L’Ecuyer

In her recently published new book, “Conversaciones con mi maestra. Dudas y certezas sobre la educación” (“Conversations with my teacher. Doubts and certainties about education”), Catherine L’Ecuyer, a Canadian researcher based in Barcelona, dismantles current clichés about school and education.

As an expert on childhood and on the use of new technologies among children, the author warns of the trend that she calls «educational homeopathy», which are «ideas without scientific evidence» that seduce some teachers.

BACK COVER TEXT (own translation)

At a time of discontentedness with «traditional» education, and in the face of an increasingly wide range of innovative offers, too often, both parents and educators, feel lost. Classrooms have always been the battleground of political powers, and, for the last few decades, also of some economic powers, that use this space for the service of their changing interests. The absence of reflection on the aims of education has given free rein to the witticisms of educational gurus who have been allowed to play with schools.

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN TODAY’S CLASSROOMS? WHAT IS BEHIND CURRENT EDUCATIONAL PROPOSALS? “Conversations with my teacher “explains the main educational trends in today’s schools. Through a Socratic dialogue between a restless student teacher and a wise retired teacher, Catherine L’Ecuyer clarifies what the widespread methods are and where they come from: emotional education, neuroscience-based education, multiple intelligences, early stimulation, project work, cooperative learning, and others.

A work that breaks with the false dilemma between «new» or «traditional» education, and that provides clarity and tools for parents and educators to understand what is happening in schools today. A calm reading that deals with the importance of attention, and the role of imagination, and opens the horizon to culture, beauty, the pleasure of learning, and the desire to know.

Mayca San Andrés

“CONVERSACIONES CON MI MAESTRA. Dudas y certezas sobre la educación” Catherine L’Ecuyer

En su nuevo libro recientemente publicado, “Conversaciones con mi maestra. Dudas y certezas sobre la educación” (Espasa), Catherine L’Ecuyer, investigadora canadiense afincada en Barcelona, desmonta muchos tópicos actuales sobre la escuela y la educación.

Experta en infancia y en el uso de las nuevas tecnologías entre menores, la autora alerta contra la moda de lo que ella llama «homeopatía educativa», que vienen a ser «ocurrencias sin evidencia científica» que seducen a una parte de los maestros.

TEXTO DE LA CONTRAPORTADA

En un momento de desencanto respecto a la educación «tradicional», y ante el cada vez más amplio abanico de ofertas innovadoras, demasiadas veces condicionadas por el marketing o las modas, tanto padres como educadores tienen suficientes motivos para sentirse perdidos. Desde siempre las aulas han sido el campo de batalla de los poderes políticos, y desde hace unas décadas también de algunos poderes económicos, como una herramienta de control al servicio de sus cambiantes intereses. La ausencia de reflexión acerca de los fines de la educación ha dado vía libre a las ocurrencias de gurús educativos a los que se les permite jugar con una realidad tan trascendente como es la escuela.

¿QUÉ PASA HOY EN LAS AULAS? ¿QUÉ HAY DETRÁS DE LAS PROPUESTAS EDUCATIVAS ACTUALES?

Conversaciones con mi maestra te explica las principales corrientes educativas que encontramos actualmente en los colegios. A través del diálogo socrático entre un inquieto alumno de magisterio y una sabia maestra jubilada, Catherine L’Ecuyer esclarece en qué consisten y de dónde vienen los métodos más difundidos en nuestras escuelas: la educación emocional, la basada en la neurociencia, las inteligencias múltiples, la estimulación temprana, el trabajo por proyectos o el aprendizaje cooperativo, entre otros.

Una obra que rompe con el falso dilema entre educación «nueva» o «tradicional», y aporta claridad y herramientas para padres y educadores con el propósito de entender lo que está sucediendo hoy en los colegios. Una lectura sosegada que trata de la importancia de la atención, del rol de la imaginación, y que abre el horizonte a la cultura, a la belleza, al placer de aprender y al deseo de conocer.

Mayca San Andrés

Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York – How should the state regulate private and religious schooling?

In 2020, Jason Bedrick, Jay Greene and Matt Lee coedited a book entitled Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York, published by Rowman & Littlefield. The editors are three esteemed experts in the field of education policy: Jason Bedrick was, at the time, director of policy for EdChoice and an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, Jay Greene is Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and Matt Lee is Distinguished Doctoral Fellow and Senior Research Assistant in the Department of Education Reform, also at the University of Arkansas.

The book looks at public policy on education in America and explores the crucial regulatory role of the state in supervising religious education. In particular, it provides a close examination of the Yeshiva controversy, instance where the state arguably exceeded the boundaries of its regulatory role, to the detriment of parents’ right to choose a school according to their beliefs. The term “Yeshiva” designates Orthodox Jewish private schools, run by Hasidic Jewish sects.

Yeshivas were subject to criticism from a group of activists called Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED). YAFFED accused these schools of not providing an adequate secular education. Subsequently to these allegations, the New York State Education Department enforced stricter requirements that private schools must satisfy to comply with New York’s education law. The implementation of the new guidelines, which are much more difficult to meet in practice, generated a public outcry because this may effectively hinder religious liberty and education.

The Yeshiva controversy reveals the inherent tensions that underpin the relationship between religion and education. Furthermore, it stresses the importance of striking a balance between on the one hand, upholding the right of the parents to choose an education for their children in line with their religious belief and, on the other hand, preserving the right of children to receive an adequate education guaranteed by the state.

The purpose of Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York is rightly to find an intersection between right to education and religious free exercise. To that end, the book takes into consideration diverse religious perspectives and expert analysis from a broad range of professional backgrounds. In an editorial review, Yuval Levin (editor of National Affairs) insisted that finding such intersection is determinant for the future of our free societies. Hence, Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York addresses a key societal issue and may be worth the read.

Chloé Vermenouze

If you want to know more, you can buy the book in the following link:

Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York – le rôle de l’état dans la régulation des écoles privées religieuses

Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York est un ouvrage publié en 2020 par Rowman & Littlefield Publishers et co-édité par Jason Bedrick, Jay Greene et Matt Lee. Les éditeurs sont tous les trois experts dans le domaine de la politique éducative. En effet, Jason Bedrick, était au moment de la parution du livre, directeur stratégique de EdChoice et chercheur adjoint au Cato Institute. Jay Greene, quant à lui, est professeur émérite et président du département de la réforme éducative à l’Université d’Arkansas. Matt Lee est impliqué dans ce même département, en sa qualité de docteur émérite et adjoint principal à la recherche.

L’ouvrage examine les politiques éducatives américaines et s’intéresse au rôle déterminant joué par l’État dans la réglementation des écoles privées religieuses. En particulier, il traite de la polémique de Yeshiva (en anglais, « Yeshiva controversy »), instance où l’État de New York s’est vu reprocher d’avoir outrepassé les limites de son rôle de réglementation, au détriment du droit des parents de choisir une école conforme à leurs croyances.

Le terme « Yeshiva » désigne les écoles privées orthodoxes juives, gérées par des juifs hassidiques. Ces écoles ont fait l’objet de critiques émanant d’un groupe d’activistes appelés les Jeunes Défenseurs pour une Éducation Juste ou « Young Advocates for Fair Education (YAFFED) ». YAFFED reproche aux écoles privées orthodoxes juives de ne pas offrir une éducation laïque adaptée. Suite à ces allégations, le département de l’éducation de l’État de New York a imposé des critères plus stricts que les écoles privées sont tenues de satisfaire pour se conformer à la loi sur l’éducation de l’État de New York. La mise en place de ces nouvelles directives, beaucoup plus difficiles à suivre en pratique, pourrait entraver la liberté religieuse. De fait, cela a généré une indignation générale.

La « polémique de Yeshiva » met en lumière les tensions inhérentes à la relation entre religion et éducation. De plus, cette polémique révèle l’importance de trouver un équilibre entre d’une part, maintenir le droit des parents de choisir une école pour leurs enfants conformément à leurs croyances religieuses et, d’autre part, préserver le droit de chaque enfant de recevoir une éducation suffisante garantie par l’état.

L’objectif de Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York est justement de trouver un point de rencontre entre le droit à l’éducation et la liberté religieuse. Dans cette perspective, l’ouvrage prend en compte diverses perspectives religieuses et des analyses d’experts issus de différents secteurs professionnels. Dans une revue, Yuval Levin (éditeur de National Affairs) a insisté sur le fait que trouver ce point de rencontre est capital pour le futur de nos sociétés libres. Ainsi, Religious Liberty and Education: A Case Study of Yeshivas vs. New York répond à un problème de société déterminant et mérite d’être lu.

Chloé Vermenouze

Le livre peut être acheté via le lien suivant :

Freedom of education brilliantly upheld by the US Supreme Court in Carson v Makin

In June 21, 2022 the US Supreme Court took a step further towards achieving freedom of education. Robert C J, giving judgment for the majority built upon two earlier decisions of the US Supreme Court in favor of educational choice: Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer and Espinoza v Montana Department of Revenue.

The case arose in the state of Maine, where a program designed to assist parents in paying tuition fees was enacted. In 1981, Maine added a new requirement for schools to be part of this program: sectarian schools were then excluded from the program. In practice, this meant that families wanting to send their children to faith-based schools, were prevented from using public tuition funding. This significantly hindered the parents’ ability to choose a school for their children, according to their values and beliefs.

Families subsequently brought a case against the commissioner of the Main Department of Education, alleging that the non-sectarian requirement violated the American Constitution. The District Court as well as the Court of Appeal held in favor of the commissioner, focusing mainly on the separation of church and state. But the Supreme Court overturned the decisions of the lower courts and invalidated the non-sectarian requirement, declaring that it violated the First Amendment of the American Constitution, particularly the Free Exercise clause. Attention was shifted to the parents’ freedom to send their children to a private faith-based school.

In effect, the ruling in Carson enables all parents, regardless of their income, to choose their children’ education. Educational choice is no longer a right enjoyed exclusively by privileged families who can afford tuition fees. The tuition assistance program is now available to parents with low incomes, wanting to send their children to private religious schools. Incidentally, this decision guards against religious discrimination.

The importance of Carson was captured by Leslie Hiner, Vice President of Legal Affairs at EdChoice (national non-profit organization encouraging state-based education choice programs), affirming this ruling “will finally put an end to a long, tortured history of anti-immigrant, anti- religious action that has hindered private school choice.” Given the reach of the US Supreme Court, this decision may resonate worldwide, towards a wider recognition of freedom of education as an essential human right.

Chloé Vermenouze

Experiencia ciudadana en Colombia por el Pluralismo Educativo

Con motivo de las elecciones parlamentarias en Colombia, un grupo de ciudadanos, a título personal y como representantes de distintas organizaciones sociales, lideró una iniciativa para poner el Pluralismo Educativo -la Libertad de Educar en Colombia- como uno de los temas claves en la opinión pública y generar consensos sobre su alto valor en una democracia.

Por esta razón, un Comité de líderes, de los cuales algunos hacen parte de OIDEL, preparó un documento que permitiera a los candidatos de los diversos partidos políticos, que así lo desearan, manifestar su apoyo a esta libertad fundamental y que esta se constituyera en uno de los factores para ilustrar al votante para tomar su decisión en las urnas. Fue en el país una primera experiencia de este tipo, circunscrita específicamente al pluralismo educativo, la cual deja valiosos aprendizajes y constituye un precedente interesante que se seguirá robusteciendo en posteriores elecciones y contribuirá en diversos espacios de deliberación cívica y política.

Así nació el texto del “Compromiso por el pleno desarrollo del Derecho a la Educación, la Libertad para Educar, la Autonomía Escolar y el Pluralismo Educativo en Colombia”, que fue firmado por varios candidatos de diferentes partidos y movimientos políticos. Un documento de una sola página que, además de fundamentarse en la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos, y el Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos, busca comprometer a los Senadores y Representantes a la Cámara, para defender, potenciar y desarrollar legalmente la Constitución Política de Colombia -acorde a las más exitosas experiencias internacionales- para que todos los padres de familia gocen efectivamente del derecho a “escoger el tipo de educación para sus hijos menores” y el Estado garantice en la práctica “las libertades de enseñanza, aprendizaje, investigación y cátedra”, definidas en la Carta Magna de este país latinoamericano y enunciadas en su legislación nacional.

Como algunos recordarán, el tema del derecho de los padres a educar a sus hijos se hizo mucho más visible en Colombia desde el año 2016, cuando unas directrices de la Ministra de Educación del Gobierno de ese entonces afectaba directamente la libertad de las familias y la autonomía escolar de las instituciones educativas. Disposiciones gubernamentales que ocasionaron como respuesta unas exitosas y masivas marchas ciudadanas sin precedentes, que causaron el freno de esas iniciativas estatales, así como la posterior renuncia de la Ministra. Por lo tanto, en Colombia se declaró el 10 de Agosto como el Día Nacional de la Libertad para Educar y se conmemora cada año con múltiples iniciativas ciudadanas.

La Red Familia Colombia, el Comité 10A, el Movimiento Nacional por la Familia, el Foro Nacional de la Familia y la Red Un Paso al Frente continuarán generando reflexión en Colombia e impulsando el objetivo de lograr la garantía plena del derecho a la educación y la libertad para educar en Colombia.

Álvaro José Cifuentes

Historic step forward in the realization of freedom of education in the US Supreme Court:

The Supreme Court of the United States has just proclaimed the support of the important principle of freedom of education. In the state of Montana parents will now be able to use public funds to freely choose an education in accordance with their values and their religious views.

The  Montana State Legislature –formed by the Montana State and the Montana House of representatives- approved a tax-credit program in 2015, with the objective to enable parents to choose the education of their choice despite their income.

The program helped parents of modest means do what more affluent parents can do: send their children to a school of their choice”, including religious inspired schools.  (Justice Alito, p.13)

However, the Montana’s Department of Revenue banned this proposed program arguing that it would infringe Montana’s Constitution, which restricts governments use of taxpayer money to fund activities carried out by religious groups. According to this prohibition, called the Blain Amendment, the government cannot use tax-payers money “ to aid any church, school, academy, seminary, college, university or other literary or scientific institution, controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect or denomination”.

The Amendment discriminated them choosing a faith-based school and restricted their freedom of choice. Three mothers of children of the school Stillwater Christian School raised their voices against this discrimination and sued the Montana’s Department of Revenue in the State Court for not being able to use the scholarship funds to pay the tuition of their children.

Last Monday, 30 of June 2020, Supreme Court Justice Roberts proclaimed in his final decision on this case, that “the prohibition burdens not only religious schools but also the families whose children attend them “(p.19). He brought to our memories the “enduring American tradition” to support the rights of the parents to raise their children in a religious atmosphere. The US Constitution itself protects the freedom of choice of parents of sending their children to a faith-based schools.

In the precedent judicial instance, at the Montana’s Supreme Courts, the counterpart argued that shutting down the support for religious schools by saying that this reflects the “state interest in preserving funding for public schools” (Brieg for respondents 7). However, according to Justice Alito, the parents affected by this banner are among those who support through taxes the public schools system. So, it is more than just to give them an effective alternative to Public Schools.

The substance of the matter under discussion according to Dissenting Justice Sonia Sotomayor is not about the separation of church and state, but about the realisation of freedom of choice of education. The banning of this aid in Montana’s Constitution “imposed”, in words of Chief Justice Roberts, “a heavy burden on people on faith and their ability to educate their children in that faith”. Therefore, he declared the provision as unconstitutional, violating the First Amendment, in specific the Free Exercise Clause.

This judicial sentence of the Supreme Court is a landmark to guarantee the right of education. It fulfils the positive obligation the state has to promote plurality and freedom of choice for the full realization of the right to education.

María Teresa Gerns

Histórico paso adelante por la libertad de enseñanza en la Corte Suprema de Estados Unidos:

La Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos acaba de proclamar su apoyo acerca del importante principio de libertad de educación. A partir de ahora en el Estado de Montana los padres podrán usar fondos públicos para escoger libremente la educación de acuerdo con sus valores y opiniones religiosas.

En 2015 el poder legislativo del Estado de Montana aprobó un programa de créditos fiscales con el objetivo de posibilitar a los padres que escojan la educación de su elección a pesar de sus creencias. Este programa estaba especialmente enfocado a familias de bajos recursos.

“El programa ayudaba a padres de recursos modestos a hacer lo que padres con más recursos podían hacer: mandar a sus hijos a un colegio de su elección”, incluidos las escuelas basadas en la fe (Justice Alito).

Sin embargo, el Departamento de hacienda de Montana prohibió este programa, argumentando que infringía la Constitución de Montana, la cual impide al gobierno prestar ayuda a grupos religiosos. Según esta prohibición, conocida como Blain Amendment, el gobierno no puede usar fondos públicos para “ayudar a cualquier iglesia, escuela, academia, semanario, facultad, universidad u otra institución literaria o científica, que está controlada total o parcialmente por cualquier iglesia, secta o denominación”.

La enmienda discriminaba a las familias que escogían escuelas de inspiración religiosa, al no poder estas acceder a financiación pública. Tres madres de niños del colegio Stillwater Christian School alzaron sus voces en contra de esta discriminación y demandaron al estado de Montana por impedirles el acceso a los fondos públicos para poder escoger la educación de sus hijos con independencia de su poder adquisitivo.

El lunes pasado, el 30 de junio de 2020, el juez Roberts ha proclamado en la decisión final de la sentencia, que “la prohibición no solo impone una carga a los colegios religiosos, sino también a las familias, cuyos hijos atienden dichas escuelas”. Nos lleva a la memoria “la perdurable tradición americana” de asegurar el derecho de los padres de educar los hijos en un ambiente religioso. La misma Constitución americana protege la libertad de elección que los padres pueden ejercer mandando a sus hijos a colegios religiosos.

En la anterior instancia judicial, en la Corte Suprema de Montana, la contraparte arguyó que el cierre de este programa de ayudas a escuelas religiosas se justificaba debido a la prioridad de preservar esta financiación para la escuela pública (Brieg for respondents 7). No obstante, según el juez de la Corte Suprema Alito, los padres que se han visto afectados por la delimitación son los mismos que contribuyen al mantenimiento de las escuelas públicas a través del pago de impuestos. Por ello, es más que justo darles una alternativa a los Colegios públicos.

El fondo de la cuestión según la opinión discrepante de la juez Sonia Sotomayor no es sobre la separación iglesia y estado, sino sobre la realización de la libertad de elección educativa. La restricción de la ayuda escolar por la Constitución de Montana “impone”, en palabras del juez presidente Roberts, “una pesada carga sobre personas de fe y sobre su capacidad de educar a sus hijos en aquella fe”. Por lo tanto, declaró la provisión como inconstitucional, por violar la Primera Enmienda de la constitución, y en concreto la cláusula sobre la Cláusula de la Libre Expresión.

Esta sentencia judicial de la Corte Suprema es un hito importante para garantizar el derecho de educación. Con ella se cumple le obligación positiva que tiene el Estado de promover la pluralidad y la libertad de elección para el pleno ejercicio del derecho de educación.

María Teresa Gerns

Alarms against freedom of education in Sweden:

After the elections in September 2018, there were difficulties to form a new government. Finally, in January, a new government was formed, the Social Democrats and the Green Party, along with the Liberal and Center Parties, came together to form a minority government. The agreement they created is called the “January Agreement”, which includes a proposition to no longer allow new religious schools in Sweden. It has gone so far as Social Democratic ministers, including the current Minister of Education has stated that they are going to ban all religious schools, including pre-existing schools.

The call for a ban on religious schools is based on a claim that they carry out religious oppression and are bad for the integration of the students, but this claim has no current factual basis. A commissioner is currently examining “confessional elements in the educational system”.  The goal of this report is to “propose a definition of ‘confessional elements’, examine international conventions related to confessional elements in education, and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of confessional elements to determine whether there is a need for specific requirements for owners of religious schools”. The report is due to the government by May 31, but government officials seem to have already made up their minds on banning religious schools before the report has been reviewed and without any factual reasoning. Swedish citizens are calling for their government to pause and wait for the commissioner’s report before making a final decision.

This situation is critical; if this finally happens it can bring a country that has been respectful with religious minorities and freedom of education to ban some of the fundamental freedoms. We will keep you informed.

 

Natalia Baigorri

Education, Family and Migration

Nowadays, migration is mainly thought of in individualistic terms, as an experience that affects isolated individuals. In reality, one of the most dramatic spheres of migration is the family dimension, as mentioned by the Archbishop I. Jurkovič, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, during the event «Family and Migration» in occasion of the 39th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Migrants are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, nephews, fiancés and much more; nevertheless the central position of families within the debates about migration is often overshadowed. Family policies and migration policies are too often kept separated, even though these two realities are deeply intertwined. Giving this connection the space it deserves means defending migrants’ right to family life and family unity, which is one of the best ways to ensure the respect of their dignity as human beings whose life is enriched with personal relationships.

The current refugee crisis is multi-layered and presents several difficulties, however it is specifically in connection with one of its challenges that education comes into play and can help in the achievement of long lasting results.

As Maria Mercedes Rossi, representative of APG23, pointed out during her intervention, politicians and other public figures often promote a distortive narrative on migrants, endorsing a misleading image that needs to be opposed by all means. Sure enough, educating the population and most of all young generations to the values of tolerance and inclusion is a fundamental step to achieve the harmonious integration of migrant families within their hosting communities. As it was mentioned during the conference, a toxic narrative produces false perceptions that can result into harmful attitudes such as racism, xenophobia and discrimination. It is therefore fundamental to educate children and young people to the meaning of diversity, making them understand the value of a heterogeneous society. The school system has a demanding but worthwhile duty, i.e. to give the right inputs to students, in order to encourage positive perceptions and attitudes.

Many of the speakers mentioned Pope Francis’ four leading verbs that guided the drafting of the 20 Action Points for the Global Compact on Migrants and Refugees: to Welcome, to Protect, to Promote and to Integrate. The last two acquire special relevance when it comes to education. “To Promote” recalls that the main goal of all interventions must be the integral human development of migrants and of their welcoming communities, and education has the power to boost such flourishing. “To Integrate” recollects all the reciprocal processes that involve migrants and hosting communities, fostering dialogue among different cultures. Schools as well as families are the primary actors in such processes of integration.

To conclude, another intervention highlighted the role of education in promoting a culture of respect and acceptance towards migrants. Nowadays, the word «migrant» is merely used with reference to those who arrived recently, in the last few years or maybe months, and who are treated with suspicion and mistrust because of their frequent lack of documents, fixed accommodation or occupation. And yet, some migrants have been living in their hosting communities and serving them for many years, but this is often forgotten.

They are the proof that, with the right assistance and support, everyone can contribute to the flourishing of the society. This is why it is important to defend migrant’s right to family life and family unity, because if properly guided and welcomed in favourable conditions, they can fully integrate into the hosting communities, generating a value that only diversity is able to provide.

 

Cecilia Litta Modignani