Education: Presidential question, social question

– Monday 28 March 2022

Yannick Trigance, National Secretary for Schools, Education and Access to Knowledge

It was no coincidence that Emmanuel Macron left Jean-Michel Blanquer at the helm of the Ministry of National Education for a full five years. He has voluntarily chosen to confirm a minister whose policies have methodically weakened the quality of the national public education service and created unnecessary tensions with the education community. So much so that the school of trust so praised by Minister Blanquer very quickly became the school of distrust.

With ultra-centralized decision-making emerging from the rue de Grenelle, the collapse of dialogue with teachers, unions, students’ parents and popular education movements, these five years will remain sealed with the seal of contempt for school actors with a minister who is confident – ‘I’m right , but you don’t know yet…” – who doesn’t tolerate any contradiction. It is a reign from another era that Minister Blanquer is leaving to his successor, who must rebuild everything.

In addition to the very vertical exercise of power, there was a deterioration in the purchasing power of teachers – despite a very late and very modest start to revaluation to keep up appearances, a catastrophic and chaotic management of the health crisis, a worsening of educational inequalities with the loss of 8000 jobs – that corresponds to 116 universities! – if, at the same time, student numbers per class increased by 3% between 2017 and 2021 and we add to this the constant lack of substitute positions, the drop in college and high school hourly rates…

The list of attacks on the quality of public education is long when Emmanuel Macron and his minister at the same time deliberately favored private education, for example by forcing municipalities to fund private kindergartens or allocating public funds for priority education to private institutions – Local Support Contracts – however do not fulfill the same obligations as public bodies. In fact, this funding has not given any thought to the contribution of these colleges and high schools to the general struggle for access to knowledge for all students and to the general raising of the level of education.

The reforms of the Gymnasium, Abitur and ParcourSup marked a neoliberal turning point in public schools. Indeed, they have intensified academic competition between institutions through unbridled competition over the choice of options, while at the same time reducing the national value of diplomas for the first time. In doing so, they have exacerbated the inequalities between the students in the Matura examinations, orientation and study follow-up.

As an extension of that five-year term, candidate Macron wants to push his neo-liberal policies further: competition among teachers – by fooling them into thinking they don’t work enough, introducing a performance-related pay with a boost for those willing to accept additional restrictions, hiring teachers by directors and heads of institutions – his all too famous “autonomy” -, publicly made evaluations to put teachers in competition with each other…

Weaken the education system and then apply neoliberal recipes to it: an accounting strategy that has largely failed when implemented in the US or England. It’s not a liberal turn that the school needs, but a massive investment to clean up the solar blackout that’s costing our society much more.

How can we not be shocked by the total lack of reference to the issue of social and educational diversity in candidate Macron’s proposals in the field of education?

Would this question be secondary or even useless? For him no doubt.

On the other hand, it is at the heart of the project for the school, carried out by Anne Hidalgo with a strong aim: to ensure that the destiny of the individual is not set from an early age, to reaffirm that the school must not only be democratic, but also that his judgments must never be final, and that it is not necessary for some to succeed and others to fail.

To this end, Anne Hidalgo proposes putting an end to the school ghettos in order to restore the promise of the Republic and allow the success of all students: through a reorientation of school plans, through the multiplication of experiments in social and school diversity – as in Toulouse – By providing public education with the necessary means to increase attractiveness, we make differences and heterogeneity a lever for success for all students.

The success of all students also depends on teaching assignments, on reducing the number of classes, on individual support for our youth, on an inclusive school that welcomes all children with disabilities, on combating bullying in school, but also on the upgrading of professional training and the resources needed for universities to guarantee all students very high quality training conditions.

Our school system is unequal and less efficient than elsewhere, despite the tireless dedication of our teachers. Admittedly, not everything depends on the school, but it has to play its part with all stakeholders in education, such as parents, communities, popular education movements, social workers, etc.

With Anne Hidalgo we will create a school of collaboration and not competition, a fair school for all, a challenging school for all, a school that leaves no one behind, a more social and fraternal school.

With Anne Hidalgo, social and school separatism is reversed in favor of a school of being different and living together.

With Anne Hidalgo, teachers are trained, respected, listened to and regained their place, dignity and legitimacy at the heart of our social project.

While some would like to advocate the promotion of individualism, withdrawal and conservatism at the expense of education, solidarity and citizenship, we reaffirm with Anne Hidalgo that only education allows each individual to build and as such the necessary development of the school implies investment in Knowledge to rehabilitate the Republican promise of success of democratization.

Investing in education is a long-term priority and the cornerstone of the social project that we carry with Anne Hidalgo for all the children of the Republic, regardless of where they live, regardless of where they come from.

That is our ambition, that is our will.

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