An “other” school to break with 15 years of education policy

“In April, two choices will be presented to the country. That of continuing the old policies of Sarkozy, Hollande and Macron or that of preparing our future.” In his “letter to teachers”, the LFI candidate promises a complete break with the education policy pursued for 15 years. Focusing in particular on JM Blanquer’s policies, he also criticizes what was done between 2012 and 2017. This is the difficulty of JL Mélenchon’s program: to return to a highly statistical and centralized conception of education while promoting emancipation and cooperation.


“The neoliberal reforms of the past three to five years have exacerbated inequality. Successive governments have confronted the failures of thousands of students. They have turned education into a market, the student and the parents customers. , teachers, artists, and undermining the republican principles of equality, gratuity and secularism At the same time, the aims of the school have been reversed in favor of a minimalist and utilitarian vision, subordinate to the European guidelines promoting the “knowledge economy” booklet, the program of JL Mélenchon is positioned by Luc Chatel , V Peillon, N Vallaud-Belkacem and JM Blanquer in the same continuity, a prospect that should startle these ministers, who have often pursued contradictory policies.

160,000 hires

JL Mélenchon’s split is the first to be read in his budget. It promises to recruit 160,000 teachers over the five-year term. Even if we include the 66,000 contract teachers in this, that is a very ambitious target. JL Mélenchon believes this will be achieved through a revaluation of the teachers (15% salary increase for everyone immediately afterwards 15% negotiated with the unions) and pre-recruitment 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, namely that of school canteens (which today are funded by the local government), school transport (ditto) and extracurricular (idem). The extension of compulsory education to the age of 18 is made possible by the payment of a fee of €1,060 per month to secondary school students.

JL Mélenchon also wants to impose social diversity in schools by “creating a new school card that ends school segregation”. He wants to combat its circumvention by modulating the financing of private institutions according to their respect for the school card.

A school of well-being

At the same time, JL Mélenchon promises “a school where learning is good”. In other words, a rehabilitation of school buildings with relaxation areas and sports halls. The idea of ​​”densifying the network of establishments in rural areas to limit school transport times to 15 minutes” may make geographers dream…

One of the most important reforms promised is the reduction of the number of pupils per class to a maximum of 19, 15 in secondary vocational education. The transition would be phased over the five-year term and the recruitment of 160,000 teachers.

He promises a school that encourages collaboration: “encourage cooperative forms of work and promote mentoring among students through adapted pedagogy and the promotion of collective achievements and activities. Prefer an assessment that values ​​student progress and prohibits any classification” . It is a matter of opening artistic classes and multiplying artistic residencies.


If the candidate seems to be following the zeitgeist, these promises are tempered by a highly centralized view of education. JL Mélenchon wants to “restore the national framework of diplomas and programs” and “restore the national framework of timetables, in particular by restoring the arrows through 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 “coherent school and extracurricular”.

How to ensure more social diversity?

This program of break with the past five years naturally raises questions. First about the social mix program in establishments. It is clear that the school map can reproduce a geographical segregation of school audiences. We see this, for example, in the Affelnet reform in Paris. If in some institutions diversity is enhanced by forcing young people to choose from high schools in a dense geographic area, this is not the case in highly segregated districts such as the 16th arrondissement. There, the reform rather reinforces segregation.

Paul Vannier, head of education program at JL Mélenchon, has 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 commitment to diversity. We will act on all levers”. Can social diversity be imposed on municipalities? Social diversity “is a matter of national importance that cannot be left to local choices. We will have to consult with local authorities”.

How to recruit 160,000 teachers?

Hiring 160,000 teachers also seems like a very difficult gamble to win. We remember that from 2012 to 2017 the governments of F Holland had a hard time recruiting 60,000 teachers. In reality, the number of 60,000 was only reached by including non-teachers. In addition to pre-recruitment and re-evaluation, P Vannier believes that this number can be achieved by also focusing on more attention for the teaching profession. “We must emphasize the essential role of teachers for the country. We must strengthen them in their practice of the profession,” he says, “assuring them of the support of the administration when they are put into difficulties by parents”. A statement that takes words from JM Blanquer. The sequel breaks loose. “We propose to return to secondary school reform which, by multiplying evaluations and ongoing monitoring, has also increased the chances of conflict between teachers and families.” It’s not the high school teachers who will deny…

How do you find 25 billion for education?

Like the other candidates, the budget announced by JL Mélenchon seems uncertain. But because it is the most important for education, it is less than the others. According to P. Vannier, the salary increases for teaching staff and staff represent an additional $17 billion to the National Education Budget and the program of truly free education $8 billion. We would exceed a point of GDP. Education spending would return to 1990s levels. But in a period of economic recession caused by the health crisis, Europe’s massive debt and war are creating new budgetary needs. According to P. Vannier, “a fiscal revolution” and the reform of the inheritance tax should make it possible to cope with the budgetary consequences of a recovery policy thanks to wage increases. How to reconcile this budget with staying in Europe is another issue.

How to reconcile well-being, educational freedom and centralism?

Where is the pedagogical 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 under E Macron. Break with the logic of the 2016 college reform: put the disciplines back at the heart of learning by restoring sufficient and clear class schedules for each of them, including for duplication; provide the means to offer options everywhere (second modern language in 6th , ancient languages, etc.) without creating competition between disciplines Revoke the reform of the general secondary school; rethink its organization so as to stop forcing students to give up the disciplinary education essential to their intellectual training and continuation of studies; reconnecting with an organization based on the class group, with a teaching team consisting of one teacher per discipline and a coherent timetable. Strengthen the general education in the professional path”. And the program promises national frameworks. At the same time, it is a matter of pedagogical cooperation, peer tutoring for students, a useful evaluation. How do you promise a school of well-being and positive evaluation with national frameworks for timetables, programs and teachers’ control over their evaluation? “We combine all this with educational freedom,” replied Paul Vannier. “It is she who lets the teacher choose by which means he transfers knowledge, the same program”.

“Your votes can change everything,” JL Mélenchon writes at the end of his letter to teachers. There is no discussion on this point: with their 870,000 votes, the teachers can change the outcome of the 1st round and thus the direction of the second. According to an Ifop poll, in 2017, 73% of them voted for the first round, significantly more than in 2012. Macron had won 38% of teachers’ votes. JL Mélenchon came in 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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