Opacity, costs, educational diversity: why a parliamentary report undermines private education financing

The report of a parliamentary mission on public financing of private schools under contract, discussed yesterday in the Assembly committee, denounces its opacity. He calls for greater transparency and modulation of the financing of private institutions, depending on their social diversity.

Can the report by deputies Paul Vannier (La France insoumise) and Christopher Weissberg (Renaissance) on the financing of private schools under contract revive the school war between public schools and private schools? Be that as it may, forty years after the abolition of the Savary Law, which sought to create a “unified and secular public service for national education” in 1984, this report, discussed yesterday in the committee of the National Assembly, throws a paving stone in the pond. .

To the point that Catholic education – which represents 96% of the approximately 7,500 institutions under contract – has already spoken out in favor of the presentation: Mgr. Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the Conference of Bishops of France (CEF), dedicated part of his final speech at the bishops’ meeting on March 22 in Lourdes to this topic, and the general secretary of Catholic education Philippe Delorme denounced last Wednesday “ rearguard action”.

The Court’s previous warning

Last July, the National Assembly’s Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education decided to set up a fact-finding mission on the public financing of private schools under contract, following a damning report by the Court of Audit. The latter compared the importance of public financial resources devoted to the private sector and the decline in social diversity in the institutions it covers.

The Court thus underlined the 8 billion euros that the State receives to finance the remuneration of 142,000 contract teachers. State funding for private institutions amounts to 55% of their budgets for the first level and 68% for the second level, compared to 59% and 74% respectively for public institutions. The Court then spoke of a “sharp decline” in social diversity in the private sector over the past twenty years.

A check every 1500 years…

These two features are reflected without surprise in the parliamentary report presented yesterday after six months of work and hearings. The first observation is the great opacity of the financing, estimated at 8.2 billion euros from the State in 2021 and 1.8 billion euros from local authorities (municipalities, departments, regions), but of which the mission was not able to determine the exact amount to give.

This lack of traceability “seems to be contrary to the principles of transparency and budgetary discipline, even though private institutions under contract contribute directly to the public task of education,” write the authors, who denounce insufficient control. With five inspections per year for 7,500 private institutions, the inspection frequency is effectively “once every 1,500 years” in private contract education, while public institutions are no longer subject to financial audits by 10 times, the report said.

The French and the financing of private schools
The French and the financing of private schools
DDM-Philippe Rioux

The report also highlights how the obligation imposed on communities to pay private institutions a financial contribution equivalent to the contribution they grant to the public can be harmful. Cities where many students are educated in the Priority Education Network (REP), who therefore make a significant effort towards their public schools, are thus forced to do the same in the private sector, even if the students with a socio-educational profile are more advantaged there. .

The rapporteurs propose to no longer include REP and REP+ expenditure when calculating the amounts to be paid to the private sector.

Diversity at school: towards a fine?

The second salient point, also denounced by the Court, concerns diversity in schools, which former minister Pap Ndiaye had sought to increase with a memorandum of understanding signed with Catholic Education.

To strengthen this diversity, Christopher Weissberg proposes to make it mandatory to take the social positioning index (IPS) into account in the resource allocation model. Paul Vannier, in turn, advocates “a penalty mechanism” to reduce allocations when this IPS is higher than that of public institutions in the same sector.

If the report does not question the existence of private institutions or even the 1958 Debré law allowing their financing, it calls for an in-depth review. It remains to be seen whether this will be implemented into law.

Leave a Comment