This is how a school becomes a ghetto | Society

This is how a school becomes a ghetto | Society


"How many times have we talked about it? What is failing? It is not something that is in our hands, "says one teacher to another at the Juan Ramón Jiménez public school in Madrid. The center is of the so-called line one -only a classroom of 25 students per level- and in the first round of registrations they can not fill the squares. The school, in whose courtyard there is a small playground and a court, is in the district of Tetuán, where the average annual income of households is 32,624 euros. However, in their classrooms there is no equitable representation of the economic reality of the neighborhood. More than 50% of its 205 students receive a lunch scholarship, which means that family income is 9,000 euros per year or less.

"Many times we do more social services than educators," says one of the teachers who prefers not to give his name. They have had cases of energy poverty; students who have not been able to study at home due to problems with heating. Also with children, even seven years old, who arrive and leave school with the house key around their neck because nobody can go to pick them up. That added to that during the course immigrant students arrive who, on occasion, do not know the language and slow down the pace of classes, has generated an "image problem", and many families in the neighborhood opt for other centers.

Juan Ramón Jiménez, in which 95% of the students are of immigrant origin -of whom 50% have obtained Spanish nationality-, is an example of school segregation, which is the separation of children in different educational centers according to its socioeconomic profile. Specifically, it is a ghetto school, which, according to the definition of the NGO Save the Children, occurs when the level of concentration of students with low resources in the same center exceeds 50%.

This is how a school becomes a ghetto

In recent years, the European Commission, the Committee on the Rights of the Child or the UN have urged Spain to review and approve policies that curb school segregation, affecting 46.8% of schools in the country-nine of each ten are public-, according to the study Magnitude of school segregation by socioeconomic level, published in 2018 by two researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid. In that report, a great disparity between regions is reflected: the Balearic Islands or Galicia present a low segregation -between Sweden and Finland, the countries with the lowest rate in the European Union-, while in Madrid it is "very high" -Between Hungary and Romania, the two countries with the highest rate in the EU-.

In the Madrid centers, segregation has increased by 35.8% in the last 10 years. It is very complicated to identify a single cause of segregation, but the experts consulted agree that the root is in the educational policies designed by the autonomous governments. In the case of the Community of Madrid, unions such as CC OO and associations of relatives of students such as Fapa Giner de los Ríos denounce that the PP government expelled them from the schooling committees in 2013. These bodies are in charge of supervise the distribution of students and decide which centers to send to students who enroll in extraordinary convocation.

This is how a school becomes a ghetto

In 2013 the Community of Madrid approved the center's freedom of choice decree and introduced a novelty: the territorial area directorates would designate the members of these commissions, which were renamed School Support Services (SAE). "They work in an opaque way and we can no longer oversee their decisions," says Aida San Millán, CC OO youth secretary. "They are perpetuating the situation of the ghetto centers because they send students with special needs to the same centers. They have to balance the balance ", explains José Luis Pazos, former president of Fapa.

In the preliminary draft of the new education law that will be taken to the Council of Ministers for approval in the coming weeks there is a point that regulates precisely that practice. The measure indicates that the members of the schooling committees, in the case of the families of the students and of the teaching staff, will have to be designated by those same groups, and not by the Administration. Ministry sources inform that this new regulation seeks to alleviate situations like the one in Madrid.

The Jaime Vera institute in Madrid, near the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, does not stop receiving students until May. 45% of its students are immigrants, and only 50% of those who reach the baccalaureate are presented to the Selectividad. From October to January, the SAE has sent 50 students of foreign origin. In the center, nobody knows if in other institutes the same thing happens, but they recognize that advancing in the academic program is not easy: they have reached 27 nationalities and problems with the language make the task difficult. The solution is not in your hands.

"We do not know if teachers flee schools with high levels of segregation or do not choose them directly, but they are often oversaturated by the lack of means to deal with complicated situations," says Álvaro Ferrer, co-author of the study. From socioeconomic segregation to inclusive education, from Save the Children. According to the report, which analyzes the data from the last PISA report for 2015, these types of centers have fewer resources-40% of them do not offer extracurricular activities-and the training level of teachers is lower. 36.2% of teachers who teach in centers with low levels of segregation have postgraduate studies, while in high schools, that percentage is reduced to 5.8%. In addition, they participate four times less in programs of permanent formation. The high mobility of teachers in these centers makes it impossible to develop stable educational projects that can attract different student profiles. "Families categorize the school as undesirable and end up stigmatized," says Ferrer.

Among the recommendations to the Administrations, the NGO believes that it is vital to strengthen the schooling commissions so that they ensure inclusive practices. 88.9% of the ghetto centers in Spain are public property.

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