Macron launches school liberalization

“We have to have the guts to change the method. It’s a cultural revolution.” Emmanuel Macron presented on August 25 in the presence of the rectors and the Dasen what his education policy will be during this five-year period. Few novelties regarding the election manifesto. If not the non-mandatory nature of the debates announced at the beginning of the school year and a reform of teacher education. They are (in what proportion?) trained from the baccalaureate. The amount of the Education Innovation Fund will be reduced to 500 million. E Macron confirmed a 10% revaluation for all teachers and 20% for those who will commit to the “new pact”. Because, with the reform of the professional path and the new pact, E Macron undertakes a liberalization of the school while preserving the educational course of JM Blanquer. What will be left of National Education in 5 years’ time?

Promised revaluation

“We have too many unhappy students, too many concerned parents, teachers who are disillusioned or who feel they are not being recognized, and too many businesses that cannot find skilled young people. Given the nation’s investment, that means something is not right. works. We have to have the guts to change the method. It cannot be solved with more resources”. Emmanuel Macron made a disturbing observation of the French education system, but recalled that the measures of the first five-year term will certainly bear fruit in the national evaluations and pay a strong tribute to JM Blanquer.

The president of the republic has renewed the promise of teacher re-evaluation promised by his program: 10% increase for all teachers and 20% for those who will introduce the new pact. He has not set a date for these targets which probably cover the quinquennium. Such an increase would represent about three times the budget increase for this year.

Professors recruited at baccalaureate level

The second communication concerns teacher training. “We have to assume that people from the baccalaureate onwards practice this profession,” says E Macron. This is reminiscent of the preparatory course for teaching in schools. It starts with a reinforcement of the basics in high school from the baccalaureate to end with a general license. Reminiscent of ordinary schools, this project is an initiative of JM Blanquer. You will find an analysis in this article. Apparently for E Macron this could be the second as well as the first degree. One wonders how this is compatible with upgrading.

“The School of the Future” not required

The third announcement concerns the “School of the Future” debates planned in schools and institutions before the start of the school year. E Macron makes it the heart of his reform. He expects confidence from it, which is reminiscent of JM Blanquer’s slogan. Only voluntary schools and institutions will participate in this process. They will write a school project with local elected officials, local associations and parents to sign a contract with the state. For those who step in, an “educational innovation fund” will get 500 million (and no longer 1 billion). E Macron strongly urged the attending national education administrators (rectors, dasen) to be “permanent supervisors”. But there’s going to be a curse. It will be done by the Rectorates with a small ministerial team that will be responsible for “generalizing good practices”. This is one of the aspects of E Macron: he manages both to praise the liberation of the grassroots and to announce the practices imposed from above…

A liberal vision

What E Macron is promoting through these new settlement projects is the greater autonomy of establishments. “We need to give institutions more autonomy in the recruitment of teachers,” he said, referring to the Marseille experiment. The link between these projects and “the new pact”, ie the reform of the status of teachers, with new assignments, is still unclear. According to E Macron, teachers will be able to participate in the new pact outside of these new contracts. This suggests that the new contracts will lead to compliance with the new pact.

This is how the School E Macron wants to set up takes shape. We will have schools (and institutions) in the Macron project, equipped with more resources, and the others with fewer resources. These institutions compete to attract teachers and students. An “invisible hand” will ensure the success of certain establishments, necessarily the best, at the expense of others.

This very liberal view of education is also very utopian. It is situated in an ideal society and ignores the function of social sorting of the School. In the real world, these policies, which have been widely publicized in England, Sweden and the Netherlands in Europe, have exacerbated inequalities and harmed the most underprivileged students. This has also accentuated the teacher recruitment crisis, as evidenced by: this study.

The reform of the professional path

And then there is vocational education. After portraying the vocational school as “a collective mess”, the president believes that “our companies need these talents that the school is ignoring”. The reform of the vocational track must follow that of the apprenticeship system. “We trusted the crafts…, we came out of the trench wars. We need to adapt training to the needs of the labor market, recruit more associate professors from the professional world, reconnect the professional path with the world of work, revise training cards, adapting degrees to new skills”. Here too, it is a liberal revolution that E Macron wants to bring about. Trade unions in the sector are already mobilized against this reform.

One wonders what would become of a National Education with this general contracting of schools and institutions. The “cultural revolution” demanded by E Macron is simply a liberal revolution.

E Macron as Minister of Education

As if he had no education minister, E Macron also elaborated on the back-to-school measures, which had already been announced in the circular. “In elementary school, we will continue to emphasize the basics and we will generalize the daily sports practice,” he said, referring to the generalized 30 minutes, without resources, at the beginning of the school year. For E Macron, these minutes of sports make it possible to better learn “lost” students…

In kindergarten, he wants to strengthen the focus on children and mobilize neuroscience to justify this policy. In university “we will make the 6th an effective link with primary school by leaving the freedom on the ground”. In fact, the official instructions make it possible to strengthen the teaching of the fundamentals to the detriment of other disciplines. From the 5th, the president wants to “open the school to trade”. “In order to make a better choice, you need to inquire earlier,” he says. He wants to “remove the taboo of closing the school on its own” to open it up to businesses. This alludes to the half-day orientation that should have a place at the university of applied sciences. In high school, he affirms the return of mathematics to the common core of the general high school.

What determination!

There is continuity at E Macron. His project for the School has not changed since Marseille’s September 2, 2022 speech. During the campaign, he adapted his statements to the critics. To return to the “cultural revolution” of Marseille early in June and “the inevitable” privatization of the school. Of course, Macron mainly counts on himself to get his E-project through. On August 25, he made his will.

Francois Jarraud

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