Wednesday, 3 April 2013

French school parent associations bare their teeth, and quite rightly so

Remember this?
Hi, and tonight's subject is the French teaching profession and the decision by teachers' unions to oppose what in simple terms are government plans to implement reforms involving school hours on Saturday morning which the government says will render the weekly routine of schools more efficient and productive.

I don't intend to address the whys and wherefores and rights and wrongs of this proposed legislation, which was announced four months ago, and union opposition to it, but I thought nevertheless that you might like to read some of the content of a speech which was given recently by a representative of parent groups and associations to a meeting at which both teachers and their unions were also present. The speech was so volatile and accusatory towards the unions' stance that it has since gone viral in the Internet world of the French teaching profession. Needless to say, the unions don't appreciate it.

The speech reminded those who listened to it that teaching unions opposed the new system due to their professed concern for "the well-being of pupils", and it went on to deliver a withering criticism of what the associations say is a hypocritical stance by the unions. Here is some of what was said.

[So what you, the unions, are saying is]
"Yes to 'the well-being of pupils', but teachers should only teach for 23 hours a week and not 24 [which is the case today].
For 'the well-being of  pupils' it is indispensable that teachers get a pay rise right in the middle of a financial crisis.
For 'the well-being of pupils' Wednesday should remain a day off.
For 'the well-being of pupils' teachers need to rest on the weekend.
For 'the well-being of pupils' it is indispensable that July and August should remain holiday periods.
For 'the well-being of pupils' we must invest in more teachers before, and to the detriment of, developing means of teaching children to an adequate level.
For 'the well-being of pupils' you refuse to negotiate the issue of homework.
For 'the well-being of pupils' you refuse to negotiate the [universally held to be excessive] weight that children are obliged to carry in their satchels and backpacks.

In a nutshell, in just four months we have gained the sentiment that what was meant to be a 'reform of school routines for pupils' has slowly evolved into a 'reform of school routines for pupils....and teachers',  to the point where it is now no more than a 'reform of school routines for teachers unions' and shall soon doubless be a 'reform of school routines, the [summer] tourist operator lobby, the transport industry and all the rest of it'. But as to the pupils......."

Well said, and about time!!


  1. Amen. And, once again, it is sad to see that France faces some of the issues that we face here in the United States.

  2. I agree with Bookworm. Same, or probably worse problems in the US. That is why so many parents are putting their kids in private schools. Very sad!