PLACES OF KNOWLEDGE OR PLACES OF POWER, MARSEILLA SCHOOLS

The municipality led by B. Payan therefore commits to tackle the “construction site”[1], that of the renovation of public schools in Marseille. In addition to the technical questions, the whole question of competences in the field of education controlled by the municipality is central to this file.

Schools and municipalities

Maybe let’s start at the beginning. Why, you might ask, are primary schools the responsibility of municipalities? Long before the decentralization laws of the 1980s, which entrusted schools to municipalities, colleges to departments, and high schools to regions, a bit like a growth ladder, we have to go back in time to better understand what it is. It was Jules Ferry who, in the 1880s, entrusted this responsibility to the municipalities with the creation of the public primary school. So the challenge was clear: it was to free the school from the confinement in which the Church had imprisoned it through centuries of domination. Secularism was a guarantee of freedom. It is also interesting to understand that this debate seems to be resurfacing today, in the context of a confrontation that the state, which is still secular, resists religious fundamentalism, perhaps even more actively than against other other periods of our history. Moreover, entrusting the schools to the municipalities was a guarantee of equality: if it were the state that would carry out the education of young children, it would do so with a view to disseminating culture and knowledge to all. Today, as then, the state is in a sense divided: the national state directs and recruits teachers, the local state builds and maintains schools.

School renovation: an emergency

In Marseille, especially after decades of negligence by the right-wing community led by J.-C. Gaudin, but also, let’s be honest, of the socialist communes headed by G. Defferre and R. in a worrying state: the municipal authorities let the schools age and deteriorate without properly maintaining them, because they had other priorities, no doubt more visible and glorious manifestations of their authority than the day-to-day days of little Marseilles and little Marseilles. Therefore, the municipality led by B. Payan, elected in 2020, is faced with a real emergency. We must build schools where there are not enough, we must renovate schools that have aged badly because they were built in haste: public schools must therefore become the sign of a municipality that is more mindful of the future of the city, whose schools guarantee stand. This is urgent because it is important to finally end the deterioration of schools, if only to give our children educational places where they rediscover the joy of learning. This urgent need to renovate schools is also part of the project of real equality between neighbourhoods, between residents, between the different places in the city.

The Clash of Powers

But of course we have to talk about politics and about powers. Indeed, the challenge of the renovation of public schools in Marseille is a series of confrontations between powers. The first of these confrontations is that confrontation with the power of the church and that of the old powers, which one might call inertial forces, arising from many years of municipalities led by G. Defferre and R. Vigouroux, then by the town hall of J.-C., who made the law within the municipal departments. It is in particular the question of the maintenance of the schools that is the stake of this first confrontation, and no doubt the municipality under the leadership of B. Payan intends to make with the activities of the municipality a logic of responsibility that they lost had. The second confrontation in this issue of schools is opposed to the public sector and the private sector, in the form of PPP (“Public Private Partnerships”, or in the new form of “public performance contracts”[2] This is the question, which became particularly acute during E. Macron’s five-year period, of the place left to the private sector in activities, was basically transferred to the public sector – precisely to escape from the grip of liberalism and private entrepreneurs in the activities of the state.In addition, a third confrontation opposes two views on economics and professional activities.It is about the confrontation between an increasing decentralization of state-related activities to private entrepreneurs and a view of a state that is still dominated by the public sector.In the field of education, it must be clearly understood that the construction of schools cannot be separated from approaches to pedagogy and teaching: schools cannot be reduced to simple constructions, but their design, also in the field of architecture, certain educational projects express e in the pedagogical project. This should not be dominated by construction giants who know nothing about education or who, on the contrary, intend to introduce their approach to teaching in the design of schools.

Indeed, as can be seen, the issue of public schools reveals a confrontation between powers: between local powers and national powers, between the powers of the state and those of business and the market, between the powers of education and those of construction. and public works companies. This is indeed a major problem for the municipality led by B. Payan, due to the 2020 municipal elections and the desire of the voters to fully put the public sector back on the map in the activities of the municipality they want, thus see liberated from the grip of the market.

[1] See J.-M. Leforestier and J. Vinzent, The association of Marseille schools for the first start of the school year, in “Marsactu”, 29 07 22.

[2] Again the obsession with performance, which has become a hallmark of public activity, born of the liberal logic of competition.

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