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Spanish Parents Faking Divorce For School Spots

Competition for spots in acceptable state schools is so fierce in Spain, that parents are getting divorces in order to give their children an advantage. Under Spanish law, children living with a single parent get extra points on their applications.

Family courts have noticed that the numbers of official separation rose by 50 percent right before the deadline for school registration. In Spain, spouses can secure a divorce in only five weeks. After school placement is over, officials claim that many couples are back in court seeking reconciliation.

Competition for placement in the few good schools is also causing neighborhood paranoia. To see how,


The BBC reports that private investigators are seeing a flood of business, as snoopy parents want to make sure others are not lying about earnings, addresses, or marital status as a way to get ahead.

Since feigning divorce isn't a crime, can you blame these concerned parents? Should students get extra points towards their selection in a school on the basis of factors like their parent's marital status, where they live, a disability, or economic disadvantage? Spain isn't the only country with educational disparity among state schools. How can government funded schools become more universally attractive?


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liege liege 9 years
that's pretty sad. but unfortunatle it's no different in america. we may not be as extreme as to fake divorces, but the system has te same rules, the poorer you are the more opprotunities you have for grants, and scholorships, and finacial aid. which kind od screws the middle class, who arn't rich enough to aaford school, but not poor enough to qualify for financial aid from the government. it's not very fair.
kiwigeek kiwigeek 9 years
woah. That's pretty desperate. But you gotta do what you gotta do eh?
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
It sounds as though immigration is almost as much of a problem in Spain as it is here in Southern California. Silence does not solve problems, open and honest discussion does. I have a friend who "separated" from her husband and actually rented and furnished an apartment in a nearby school district so that her son would not have to attend Los Angeles Unified public schools. When there are no good options, you do what you can. He had been in private school, but there were a couple of problems with the administrations' philosophy. I applaud these parents for demonstrating that, if the laws are ill-founded, you have to find a way to work around them (without violating them). I can't speak for Spain, but one of the biggest problems here is the weird beast that diversity has become. The best way I have heard it put is that it has changed from being "equality of opportunity" to "equality of output". Thus, "disadvantaged" classes are given extra points, tutoring, assistance to get them to the same level of achievement as other students. IMO this cheats the rest of the students, and assumes that everyone has the same goals, abilities and aptitudes. As for public employment, I think the "merit system" practiced by public education in California is a great example (although inefficient). This is long, but informative--to get a job with my organization, you have to: (1) Wait for the position in which you are interested to be opened (i.e., there's a position either available or anticipated) (2) Submit an application and have it screened for basic qualifications. (3) Sit a written examination developed to test for skills specific to the job. (4) Pass the exam with a sufficient score to put you toward the top of the group (done on a sort of a curve) (5) Do an oral, general sort of interview with a panel (thus minimizing one individual's subjective judgments). There are generally three people, preferably from outside the organization (such as volunteers from other educational entities). (6) Get an adequate score on the panel interview. (7) Scores are combined and the list of passing candidates is ranked. (8) When there's a vacancy, the top three ranks of the list are sent out to the interviewing manager, who makes his/her selection based on the interviews. Gotta run, have someplace to be this morning!
KahliaBear KahliaBear 9 years
I agree, UnDave, but before we can even begin to do that, we have to make it so that everyone starts at the same level... which would require a serious overhaul of public education. The problem is not that there are entrance requirements, it's that there are inequalities in the first place (which is what makes the entrance requirements necessary, of course). So, until everyone has been offered the same opportunities, it's not really fair to say that everything should be merit-based.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I agree that we need to punish those who cheat the system, but the system needs to be changed so that the entance qualifications are based soley on merit, not race, sex, or familial status.
KahliaBear KahliaBear 9 years
josefelix1, as pequeña said, immigration is NOT the problem, it is setting up the system to properly handle the influx of immigrants. Do you think the politicians were genuinely surprised by the European laws that allowed immigrants to enter from Eastern countries? Of course not! They could have begun changing the system (education as well as health care) to make it possible, but instead chose to spin it as a "problem" that would strain the country. And it is most certainly not true that nobody is talking about this "problem"... as a foreigner in Spain I am confronted by people who make negative comments about immigrants at least once a week. As a well-educated, white American, people often say things like, "Oh, I don't mean you, I mean the other immigrants", referring to Africans or Latin Americans. Trying to make people see that "immigrants" come in all colours and from all socio-economic levels has been a years-long struggle for me. On topic, I don't think it's ok for people to cheat the system to get their kids into better schools, especially since in doing so they may be making it so that a child from the neighbourhod has to travel to a different school that is further from their house... but people all over the world will always be willing to cheat the system to get ahead. It's frustrating, but until there is legislation in place to punish those who do this (and the resources necessary to catch and punish them), I'm not sure there's a good solution to this problem. (For the record, I'm new to the Sugar network, but I didn't join for this article... it's hard to get that many points!)
pequeña pequeña 9 years
Orson, I think you explained very well the situation. Josefelix, I'm from Spain too, and I do not think Immigration is the main problem here. It is indeed and important issue, and we can discuss different ways to deal with it, but I don't think it's true that immigrats overcrowd schools and overuse medical resources. Of course, it depends if you see immigration as a positive or as a negative thing, and I think it can be both things. We need immigration - controlled and not massive, but we do need immigrants. And I live in a neigbourhood where more than a 50% of the population is immigrant. iloveana - I agree, we do not have radical socialism in Europe. We have democracies and different society structures from the one in the US, that's all.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 9 years
angelicrealtor I love your suggestion! I don't understand how divorcing the person you love, and vowed to stay together with through good and bad etc. just so your child can get a spot in a good school is considered good parenting. What happened to teach your children to study hard, do their best, go above and beyond on your assignments and hey get into the school with extra points based on their merits? I realize that is harder to do when it's young children starting school for the first time. But many parents think that their children's education is the schools job. It's not - it's the parents job, the schools and teachers are aids in the process. Many parents think they just have to dress the kids and send them on their merry way every day and feed them when they get home. Your child's education starts long before they ever enter school. And I'm kind of flabbergasted that so many people think that teaching our children to be dishonest and to beat the system in order to get what you want is a good thing.
endoftime-space endoftime-space 9 years
Everyone keeps talking about the dishonesty of a fake divorce , but what kind of values are they teaching their children when they say that "You getting into a PRE-SCHOOL is MORE IMPORTANT than our FAMILY staying TOGETHER !?!?" Or if they stay together "illegally" after a divorce , that they are willing to become adulterers & whores for the pre-school. That's Nuts!!!! And way twisted priorities . When did education & working your way into an early grave become the end all be all of existence? What about being happy ? What about being able to LIVE with YOURSELF & sleep at night? I home school my children . They are far better educated than those in public school. And better yet , we are free !!! We went camping last week after their peers had spring break , We wake up when we are no longer tired , we pour our energy into things we're passionate about, we're not bound by other people's schedules or other people's agendas . I also had all of my children at home under water! My labors were fast , I was back in my own clothes with in 2 months every time , Instead of rushing somewhere in a car while I was in labor I was near a bathroom which is where you'd want to be, afterwards we slept in our own bed. We are self employed . I don't envie you people your high stress lives .
JamesF JamesF 9 years
I am in a good position to comment on this subject. I have lived in Spain the last 8 years of my life, and I have a child starting school in September at the age of 3. My family and I have just completed the process of entering our son into the Spanish educational system. It was not an easy process. We applied at a school with only 50 openings and over 200 applicants. You earn points by marital status, earnings, sibling attending school of application, disabilities, location from the school, ect. That is the type of competition that is present in the well known schools. However, good teachers are scattered throughout the public school system, so there are very few schools that can claim to have the best teachers. So what drives the competition? Well, location (closest to home), bilingual status, and facilities. I do not agree with parents cheating the system, by means of divorce or any other method. The Spanish laws are complex, but are fair. Regardless, I won't let a school determine the outcome of my son's education. It is my responsibility to educate him. Every child should have their own teacher at home, to ensure that child obtains the highest level of education.
josefelix1 josefelix1 9 years
I am from Spain. #1 we are a Capitalist democracy with a somehow socialist party. The government does care about the people. Health care is free as well as good education. PROBLEM: the influx of MILLIONS of IMMIGRANTS. Spain is the 2nd country, after the US, that receives the highest amount of immigrants in the world at the moment. They come from Latin America(Latin gangs included...), Africa, China, India, Eastern European countries, Morocco ... Spanish parents feel absolutely powerless against this problem which is depleting the system overcrowding schools & over using medical resources out of the millions of Spaniards. We now have to "compete" with the third wolrd, or since it is more politically correct to say, the "developing world". Nobody talks about this problem but it is the big Elephant in the room.
Orson Orson 9 years
The article doesn't have it exactly right. This doesn't have to do so much with state (public) schools in Spain as it does with the "concertados" schools. These are formerly private schools which now receive public funding and, in terms of admissions, use the point system. The quality of the education is high, and the admissions is open to anyone who earns enough points. That is not the case with private schools, which generally favor the wealthy. Many concertados provide, to put it simplistically, private-school education for free. That is why parents will go to great lengths to get their kids in, which the article accurately points out. I am not surprised at all by the fake divorces. Other examples are parents renting empty apartments just to say they live in the zone (a major source of points). Or they will fake their kid's chronic allergies (a letter froma a doctor), or report their status as self-employed low income earners (when they are probably making six figures). These all get them points. The system was actually designed to make it fairer to get into these schools, but obviously will sometimes do what they can to get around the system. These extreme cases do exist, but I don't think they are widespread.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
well, this seems similiar to a recent post here on the Sugar Network I believe, regarding couples who divorce or are considering divorce for medical benefits and to escape the huge debt they'll be saddled with if they remain a couple. These parents are doing the best they can for their kids. You can only have so many extra jobs, and honestly, if you were in their position, wouldn't you want the best for your children? My only concern is that if there's an emergency with one of the parents, perhaps the other would not be able to make medical or legal decisions on their behalf and it'd turn into a kinda Terri Schiavo situation. Not many people will realize that they need power of attorney.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
I agree with previous posters who stated that it's a bit ridiculous for us to criticize other countries' educational systems, since, unfortunately, so many products of our own educational system can barely spell in their own native language.
rjlny rjlny 9 years
This is just sad that the education system in some of these industrialized countries including america is failing and the less fortunite are so desperate the'll try anything...democracy as a hole is failing the middleclass....
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Sarahnicole, There is nothing wrong with a liberal arts degree. After you graduate, you should be able to correctly pronounce: "Do you want frise with that?" Just kidding. ;)
angelicrealtor angelicrealtor 9 years
My suggestion is to simply have the schools affected to sue the parents in court for fraud. Then they should make them pay back all of the money AND also pay for another child's tution for 1 full year who is next in line to go to that school. I think hitting them in the wallet/pocketbook would help discourage dishonest parents and teach them a good lesson, as a result!!!
syako syako 9 years
senne :hug: welcome!
iloveana iloveana 9 years
wow some people are really stupid - since when is Europe a socialist community of some sort?? We do not have radical socialism at all, please understand that!!!!!!! A fair welfare system and free health care for all is not crazy socialism, its another structure of society. Quit labeling anything other than the US "socialist nations"
Senne Senne 9 years
Cabaker and Syako I understand your points. We should all be able to share own personal opinions without attacking others personal opinions if/when we don't agree with them. I don't think attacking other people's posts are effective communication. That's just plain being rude and ugly. We should be able to agree to disagree.
Senne Senne 9 years
That's very true, Acosta. I don't want to assume but my humble opinion is that I think these parents are doing what they have to do in this situation to get their child ahead and in a good school. I don't think it's okay to say "Oh well my kid can't get in so he/she will just go to whatever school they have to." Why accept second best if you don't have to? That's like telling our children to settle for what's given to them and not strive for better. Why do you think so many parents request transfers for their school aged children now? Look around and see....
syako syako 9 years
Oh I see it now. I know Cabaker. I don't even go to a bunch of sites because the people are so RUDE! :raspberry:
Sacka Sacka 9 years
Some people are richer so that's their edge over less fortunate people for a higher learning. Some people have to fake their divorce for the same advantages.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
syako, yea if you go on Yahoo's homepage they linked to teh story under Featured
Acosta Acosta 9 years
Yes and that's not all we'll do to get ahead in life.
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