In an amendment agreed between the PSOE, Podemos and ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya/ Catalan Left Republic) supported by a Congress vote of 26 votes in favour and 16 against Spanish will no longer be the official language of state.
The law removes the reference to Spanish being the "vehicular language" throughout Spain which effectively means it is no longer classified as the default or primary working language in the education system. This change enables the linguistic immersive model of teaching, the most well known example being the system in Cataluña, which sees Spanish only used in classes teaching Spanish language. The position is unclear though, as the Constitutional Court has stipulated that Spanish must be the "vehicular" language in Cataluña.
It is now established that by the end of compulsory education all students must have "full command" of both Spanish and the co-official language that may exist in the region. It provides autonomous authorities with the power to enforce these aims and the power to intervene to enact measures to remedy any failure in linguistic competences.
In the Congress vote, the PNV (Basque National Party) abstained and the PP, Ciudanos and Vox voted against. The parties voting against have all announced their intention to appeal to the Constitutional Court as they consider the move an "outrage" violating fundamental rights.
PP Spokesman Cuca Gamarra lambasted the Government, stating they are "handing over education in exchange for votes to strengthen its budgets". Ciudanos labelled the amendment as very serious and they vowed to block the extension to other institutions. Vox described the move as the "culmination of a linguistic immersion project whose goal is to break up national unity". UPN (Navarresse People's Union) pronounced that the decision was "an absolutely inadmissible transfer to nationalist blackmail and a clear violation of the Constitution"
Government representatives have described the move as one that "shielded" co official languages whilst not having Spanish "relegated".
The law also prevented schools that separate by gender to no longer be able to receive public subsidies which is also in contravention of the Constitutional Court decision.
"Not a single euro will be allocated to the elitist school that segregates by sex. Whoever wants to take their children, in a fundamentalist and sexist delusion, to these centres will have to pay for it with their own money," said Joan Mena, Podemos spokesperson for Education. This comes hard on the heels of wording that has been described as a noose round the neck of Concertado schools, often described as Semi-Private Schools. They can be compared to Charter Schools in the UK. They operate with State regulation and public subsidy but have more freedom over the management of the school. They often feature religion as a strong pillar of their education programme. 25% of students attend such schools in Spain. An amendment has been made that states autonomous communities "will promote a progressive increase in public school positions in the network of publicly owned centres". By excluding the private schools that receive public funding from the wording it casts the future of such schools in doubt, a fear which has previously motivated parents to march on the streets. Protests were present at the Congress during the vote on Thursday 5th November.