A “different” school to break with 15 years of educational policy

“In April, the country has two options. To continue the old policies of Sarkozy, Hollande and Macron or to prepare our future.” In his “Letter to the Teachers”, the LFI candidate promises a complete break with the educational policy that has been in place for 15 years. Targeting JM Blanquer’s politics in particular, he also criticizes what was done between 2012 and 2017. This is the difficulty of JL Mélenchon’s program: to return to a very statist and centralized concept of education while promoting emancipation and cooperation.

Break

“The neoliberal reforms of the last three five years have widened inequalities. Successive governments have come to terms with the failure of thousands of students. They have turned education into a market, the students and the parents into customers. , teachers, performers, the Republicans undermine principles of equality, gratuitousness and secularism At the same time, the school’s objectives have been inverted in favor of a minimalist and utilitarian vision, subordinate to European directives promoting the “knowledge-based economy” Brochure, the program is positioned by JL Mélenchon by including Luc Chatel, V. Peillon, N. Vallaud-Belkacem and JM Blanquer in the same continuity, a prospect that should frighten these ministers, who have often pursued opposing strategies.

160,000 new hires

The break borne by JL Mélenchon can first be seen in his budget. It promises 160,000 teachers to be recruited over a five-year period. Even if we include the 66,000 contract teachers in this number, that is a very ambitious goal. JL Mélenchon intends to achieve this through a re-evaluation of teachers (15% salary increase for all immediately, then 15% negotiated with unions) and pre-hiring from the end of the year. There are also 8,000 CPEs, 6,000 doctors, nurses and psychiatrists.

Free and social mix

It also promises free education, i.e. that of school canteens (which are now funded by municipalities), school transport (idem), and after-school education (idem). The extension of compulsory schooling to 18 years is made possible by paying a monthly subsidy of €1,060 to vocational high school students.

JL Mélenchon also wants to enforce social diversity in schools by “creating a new school map that puts an end to school segregation”. He wants to fight against their circumvention by modulating the funding of private institutions according to their deference to the school card.

A school of well-being

At the same time, JL Mélenchon promises “a school where learning is good”. Namely, a redevelopment of the school grounds with recreation areas and sports halls. The idea of ​​”densifying the network of rural facilities to limit school transport times to 15 minutes” may make geographers dream…

One of the most important promised reforms is reducing the number of students per class to a maximum of 19 or 15 in vocational high schools. The transition would be gradual over the five-year tenure and hiring of 160,000 teachers.

He promises a school that promotes cooperation: “Promote cooperative forms of work and encourage tutoring between students through adapted pedagogy and the promotion of joint achievements and activities. Prefer an assessment that values ​​student progress and prohibits any classification.” It is about opening artistic classes and multiplying artistic residencies.

recentralization

If the candidate appears to be following the zeitgeist, these promises are tempered by a very centralized approach to education. JL Mélenchon wants to “restore the national framework for diplomas and programs” and “restore the national framework for timetables, particularly by restoring the arrow by discipline of duplication. He plans to “redefine school rhythms by returning to a national framework” , without ” We know exactly in what sense, but by making “school and extracurricular coherent”.

How can more social diversity be ensured?

This program of breaking with the previous five years obviously raises questions. First to the social mix program in companies. It is clear that the school map can reproduce a geographic segregation of the school audience. We see that, for example, with the Affelnet reform in Paris. If in some institutions it increases diversity by forcing young people to choose high schools in a narrow geographical area, it does not do so in highly segregated districts such as the 16th arrondissement. There, the reform tends to increase segregation.

Paul Vannier, Director of Education at JL Mélenchon, has the answers to these questions. “The educational program is not separate from the rest,” he told us. “There will be a housing policy and the development of free school transport to support our desire for diversity. We will use all levers.” Can social diversity be imposed on local authorities? Social diversity “is a matter of national interest that cannot be left to local decisions. We need to discuss it with local authorities”.

How do you recruit 160,000 teachers?

Recruiting 160,000 teachers also seems like a very difficult bet. We remember that F Holland governments had a hard time hiring 60,000 teachers between 2012 and 2017. In reality, the 60,000 figure was reached only by including non-teachers. In addition to presetting and reassessment, Fr. Vannier wants to reach this number by also focusing on a better consideration of the teaching profession. “We must emphasize the essential role of teachers for the country. We must strengthen them in their professional practice,” he tells us, “and assure them of the support of the administration when they get into trouble with their parents”. A statement echoing the words of JM Blanquer. The sequel breaks down. “We propose to return to the reform of the high school, which, through the multiplication of evaluations and continuous control, has also multiplied the possibilities of conflict between teachers and families”. It’s not the high school teachers who will deny…

How do you find 25 billion for education?

As with the other candidates, the budget announced by JL Mélenchon seems uncertain. But since it is most important for education, it is less important than the others. According to P. Vannier, the salary increases for the education staff and hiring represent an additional 17 billion for the national education budget and program for real free education 8 billion. We would exceed one point of GDP. Education spending would fall back to 1990s levels, but new budgetary resources would be needed at a time of economic recession following the health crisis, huge debt and war in Europe. According to P. Vannier, “a tax revolution” and the reform of the inheritance tax should make it possible to deal with the budgetary consequences of a recovery policy thanks to salary increases. How to reconcile this budget with staying in Europe is another problem.

How can well-being, freedom of education and centralism be reconciled?

Where is the educational policy going? JL Mélenchon’s program seems to reconcile different schools. On the one hand there is the will to break with the reforms carried out under F. Hollande and E. Macron. “Break with the logic of the 2016 higher education reform: put subjects back at the heart of learning by restoring sufficient and labeled timetables, including for duplication, for each of them; Provide the means to offer choices everywhere (second modern language in 6 , ancient languages, etc.) without creating competition between disciplines. Repeal the reform of the general high school; reconsider their organization so as to no longer force students to give up the subject teaching necessary for their intellectual development and continuation of their studies; reconnect with an organization based on class divisions, with a teaching team of only one teacher per subject and a coherent timetable. Strengthening general education in the professional career”. And the program promises national framework conditions. At the same time it is a question of the pedagogy of cooperation, of peer tutoring for students, of helpful evaluation. How to promise a school of well-being and positive evaluation with national frameworks for curriculum, programs and teacher evaluation control? “We combine all of this with educational freedom,” replied Paul Vannier. “It is she who gives the teacher the choice of the means by which he imparts knowledge, the same program”.

“Your voices can change everything,” writes JL Mélenchon at the end of his letter to teachers. There is no debate on this point: with their 870,000 votes, the teachers can change the results of the 1st round and therefore the direction of the second. In 2017, according to an Ifop poll, 73% of them voted for the first ballot, significantly more than in 2012. E Macron had received 38% of the teachers’ votes. JL Mélenchon came second with 23% of their votes. The 5 years of the Blanquer Ministry should not push teachers to renew the same score for E Macron.

Francois Jarraud

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