Education: a review of the essential system for economic and social prosperity in France

Published September 7, 2021


By Nelly Guet.

Ten years ago, the Congress of the European Parents’ Association – EPA was held in Paris.

Many speakers focused on the quality of teaching and teaching staff, including the OECD and the Montaigne Institute. Suddenly a voice rose in the room, that of the Vice President of the PEEP who stated:

In times of pandemic, what matters is not the work done by each doctor, it is the organization.

Ten years later, in 2021, we are not only affected by a global pandemic but also by a crisis situation that has reached its climax in education. It’s not just about the city of Marseille.

Teachers’ salaries

The response from the Minister of National Education would make you smile or think it was a joke if the situation were not so dramatic:

The path is at least 2000 euros net per month for any teacher … It is in 2024 that we must reach a result of this type … in February 2022, it will be 1869 euros net per month.

What is at stake is not so much the amount of bonuses ranging from 57 euros net per month for the youngest to 29 euros for those who are halfway through the race, but naivete, feigned? – believe in the virtues of this measure.

Whether the duplication of classes, the tutoring, the revaluation of teachers ‘salaries, everything is calibrated so as not to displease the teachers’ unions.

This must be understood as the poverty of the proposals derived from the Grenelle of education in which the Minister claims to be inspired. It doesn’t matter if the answers were blown or not before the consultation, as some detractors claim, because in both cases the reflection is mainly based on the needs of the teachers conceived as a uniform mass.

How can we say that all careers are the same and that it is fair to align salaries on an index scale that does not take into account the work done?

Consider two examples of very different teacher profiles:

  • Shouldn’t we offer the most sought after a salary that allows them to pursue their professional choice by giving up the salary they can claim from the industry?
  • Should we not, in the other case, offer only a base salary, deliberately chosen to support a cause more political than professional?

Offering 57 euros at the start of a career to a young graduate in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics – disciplines that should be taught in a multidisciplinary way, is simply ridiculous and has no chance of success.

How to attract this versatile STEM teacher, who is also able to help his students benefit from collaboration with companies? The solution chosen was not to offer this type of training upstream: therefore, no teachers trained at the level of secondary education, and reduce the number of teachings of similar specialties and essential to ensure the future of the younger generations and of the country through innovation. and research.

Such a requested profile, which is so lacking, must, of course, receive an initial salary of 3,000 euros net, otherwise we will dispense with the skills that have become essential and the answer, as was the case of the Law from a trusted school. ” enacted in 2019, will consist of orienting the choice of families towards disciplines more represented in the teaching staff.

Let’s take another example, that of the union members. As a principal, I was twice faced with the situation of having a teacher benefit from this leave; both taught classics; the first was enrolled full-time for SNES, the second, for SNES-FSU, was only part-time and this 28-year-old teacher preferably required hours of Latin and Greek, which he expected that in small numbers would improve. to dedicate himself to his primary task in the service of the union, which he formulated as follows: “I’m in charge of the teacher movement”.

Translate: 28-year-old teacher who obtained three successive transfers at his request not only has the union’s responsibility to ensure that the ministry does not deviate from union elections during joint commissions, but also has the mission to monitor certain heads of institutions more than others, those who, in the field, could be tempted by the implementation of experimental systems – authorized by law – that could lead to the emergence of profile positions and, consequently, to the recruitment locally. No risk: the system is locked.

In addition, when we compare French salaries with those of other European countries, we often forget to specify that the tasks corresponding to the “service of school life” in France are undertaken elsewhere by teachers: relationships with families, personalized student tracking. …, Practices that allow to fight effectively against school dropout.

The salaries of German teachers, at the beginning of their careers and during their careers, are twice as high as those of their French colleagues, but they have the obligation to replace their absent colleagues and take turns to manage. interclasses; The school holidays are 4 weeks shorter than ours.

Under these conditions, in France it would be very possible to significantly increase – around 30% – teachers’ salaries. Teaching directors who take their profession seriously are destined to be principals, and “school life” staff will have the option to choose between this same career and the teaching role.

A sumptuous saving could also be made by ordering the statutes of the inspection bodies. While some are intended for field monitoring with teaching staff, others should work under private contract when performing audit and advisory functions. It doesn’t make sense to be judged and judged like the Inspectors General of National Education who encouraged the debates within the Grenelle of education.

As we have seen, there is still doubt about the purpose of the mission entrusted to them. In addition, the expenses related to its functions, which have become obsolete, the straitjacket of the programs should no longer exist, are exorbitant and deserve to be dedicated to useful tasks, at the service of students.

Education: Reviewing School Leadership

President Macron recently made the only appropriate response to the critical situation in Marseille: attacking the leadership of schools. The director must be able to hire his teachers, evaluate them and make training proposals, to which must be added a certain power in the distribution of time and financial resources. We are a long way from this operation because all the ministers and presidents have withdrawn in the face of the discontent of the teachers’ unions.

Let’s take a brief look at the story.

Teachers remember Claude Allègre as minister from 1997 to 2000. They forget that he was the one who already advised Lionel Jospin between 1988 and 1992. Claude Allègre, when he was minister, remembered very well his first experience that it consisted of giving without receiving, that is, increasing the salaries of teachers without negotiating counterparts that were never later accepted.

The second time, he had sworn to be the strongest against the president of the SNES, embodying in 2000 the omnipotence of the majority union. We know the rest. A by-election in Sarthe revealed the lack of love of teachers voting for the Socialist Party, Claude Allègre was dismissed.

He was then in Budapest taking part in an “Arion” visit, which the European Commission called a “seminar for decision-makers”. We were 11 of the eight European nationalities and if among us the Irish colleague will become an influential adviser, the Spanish colleague responsible for a large region, I announced for my part that thanks to the new minister, we were now on the right track , that all the work we had just done during this seminar was in line with the will of the minister. But it was nothing.

Subsequently, only the cabinets of Gilles de Robien and François Fillon were inspired by European recommendations and set in motion the beginnings of what could have become a competency-based operation, at all levels. Socialist ministers unraveled what had been carefully considered, even elsewhere.

Ministers of the serrallo like Xavier Darcos and Jean-Michel Blanquer affirmed to be able to evade the reefs that the union opposition represents. However, this opposition is not only an obstacle to be overcome skillfully, but a hostility that gives no choice but the one formulated in private by Claude Allègre: “I’ll be her or me”.

So which minister will have the courage to ignore the threats?

Only the President of the Republic can declare that this is the future of France, its economic prosperity and its social balance. Consequently, which candidate for the highest office will have the courage to explain to French voters who are not teachers that the state, hierarchical and monopolistic school system will end, leaving only an appearance of autonomy in the regions, schools and teachers? It doesn’t make sense to talk about raising wages before rebuilding the system to rebuild.

A director who does not decide the distribution of budgetary, hourly and human resources is none: this is what I have observed for 20 years in contact with my European colleagues and other continents. The goal of equity, the consideration of local situations, the need to involve teachers in working in disciplinary and / or multidisciplinary teams with external collaborators or not, require a transformation of the existing system.

For the naive who think that an experiment here or there, like the one proposed by President Macron in Marseilles, might be enough, I remind you that already in 2002-2004, Jean-Pierre Raffarin had such a proposal on his table and he wanted to use it “in difficult neighborhoods” because politicians believe that this restriction is enough to get the approval of teachers’ unions.

In 2009-2010, Luc Chatel will try to implement this proposal. In vain. It has now created an international network of establishments, thus enriching the offer in France, which was mainly based on the AEFE. The task was probably easier.

As long as the parents of French students do not understand the urgency of this transformation that will induce a necessary constructive involvement at the level of the institution where their children are educated, they will suffer the effects of a national policy that has proven ineffective for more than 30 years.

The unions fear the slightest breach of the system because they know what it would mean for them: the end of their management of teachers, their promotions, their transfers. A certain autonomy will make it necessary for the teaching staff to define “positions with a profile”, henceforth involved in the process of attracting their peers. Trade unions will have to become truly professional associations, which are in most other countries.

It is time to step out of the Franco-French framework and learn about international research and practices. The next such conference will be held on September 28, 29 and 30. More than a thousand educational leaders from around the world have been participating in this gathering for 15 years. So far we were only two or three French while the conference was held 100 km from the French border. It’s been online since 2020, which should make it easier for our leaders:

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