Seine-Saint-Denis: “The school is considered, and rightly so, undesirable for working-class students” – Bondy Blog

Since February 27, education staff, parents and students have been calling for an emergency plan for Seine-Saint-Denis. In one voice, they condemn the lack of funds, unreplaced teachers, overcrowded classes, the virtual disappearance of medical-psycho-social staff… After a list of needs, from institution to institution, the unions estimated the amount needed to rebuild the suffocating public school in the department at 358 million euros.

At this stage, the government’s response remains insufficient, if not non-existent. Inter-union 93 was received by Nicole Belloubet, Minister of National Education and Youth, on Monday 15 April. In a press release, the unions announced: “The Ministry is making an irresponsible choice by not responding to requests (…) for an emergency plan for public schools in Seine-Saint-Denis and against the shock of learning. » Therefore, they call for the movement to be extended and intensified from the beginning of the school year on Monday, April 22.

Jean-Yves Rochex, professor emeritus at the University of Paris 8 in Saint-Denis, is an expert on priority education. For more than 40 years, he has been interested in the effects of this system, especially in Seine-Saint-Denis, where he lives. He returns for the Bondy blog about the long-term decline of the ward’s schools and the failure of priority education policies to turn around the dilapidated school. Interview.

What is the priority of education policy?

This is a policy that basically aims to give more funding to certain schools and certain institutions located in neighborhoods or environments where very impoverished and insecure populations are concentrated. Resources in positions (teaching and non-teaching staff), in hours and possibly in points. This system is very important in Seine-Saint-Denis, since 60% of the colleges in this department are in Rep or Rep+.

Why then do the institutions registered there sometimes remain so poor at the age of 93?

“Excessive personnel”, in quotation marks, in Rep. institutions, it is done according to what the institution would have in terms of resources if it were not in the Republic. Therefore, there is a certain inertia and effect of previous funds on currently allocated funds. Which means that even today, many colleges or schools in Seine-Saint-Denis en Rep are less equipped than some of the colleges in the city centers, whether in Paris or in the big provincial cities.

What explains such a lack of teachers in the department and what are the consequences?

The profession is already becoming less and less attractive. In addition, the Créteil academy has been in deficit in primary education for a very long time. This means that we were forced to open a second competition specific to an academy where the employment rate is well below 10 out of 20, while it is much higher at other academies. And this, even though the system of permanent teacher training has been devastated for years.

This also applies to secondary education, especially colleges, which in Seine-Saint-Denis have a much higher rate of contract teachers with little or no training than elsewhere. In addition, appointment and transfer conditions mean that teachers with the least experience are assigned to institutions and departments with the greatest deficits, which are often the most difficult.

Would the 356 million euros requested in the emergency plan be enough to improve the situation?

Enough, it’s hard to say. But at least it is necessary, and this figure is the result of a very extensive multi-month work by the trade union to assess, from institution to institution, what their needs are.

Let’s add two thoughts to this. The first is that Seine-Saint-Denis has difficulties of a territorial scale and concentration that can hardly be found elsewhere (except in certain overseas territories) where the districts and institutions covered by priority education are relatively limited and much more limited in size. Therefore, the question arises whether this specificity would not require specific treatment. Especially the training policy, initial and continuous, and support for teachers and other experts by experienced teams of trainers and researchers.

We have a precedent with the 1998 emergency plan obtained after a long strike

Another remark, to recall that we had a precedent with the 1998 emergency plan obtained after a long strike. This movement gained 3,000 additional jobs over three years for the department, which is significant. The allocation of these 3,000 positions has unfortunately been gradually eroded by national and academic resource management policies. While the socioeconomic situation of a significant part of the population of Seine-Saint-Denis continued to deteriorate.

Furthermore, we can only regret that this exceptional award was not accompanied by a monitoring and support system for professional teaching experience and continuous improvement appropriate to the difficulties.

The conflict of knowledge that Gabriel Attal is driving does not seem to be going in this direction…

One of the paradoxes of priority education is that it is often stated that teachers should have practices that are less productive for differentiation and inequalities. But we have hardly helped them in this, although we do not promote things that go exactly the opposite. We have an obvious illustration of this when the short-term minister of national education, now prime minister, talks about the conflict of knowledge on the day of the publication of the PISA survey.

They show, like the vast majority of research work, the complete opposite of what it promotes. Especially regarding repetitions, which are ineffective, even punishing in long-term and levels. We tell ourselves that this is not a confluence of knowledge, it is a contempt of knowledge.

Added to this disdain for knowledge is the experience of professors, subjected to increasingly authoritarian prohibitions, even threats, such as these professors from Sevran who participated in a video of their students to condemn the situation in their high school premises. .

We may wonder if this neglect of the experience of teachers and families is conscious and voluntary.

We can also wonder if this disregard for the experience of teachers and families is conscious and voluntary. I think that some of the political decision makers are so delusional that they don’t know what people are like in terms of living and working conditions. If Amélie Oudéa-Castera’s children needed a speech therapist, I don’t think she should have much difficulty finding one, whereas it has become almost impossible in our department. As for Gabriel Attal, who completed all his education in one of the most exclusive private schools in the center of Paris, we can legitimately wonder what he knows about schools and colleges in the most segregated neighborhoods.

What consequences can this have on young people in the medium term, on their mental health and social climate?

What is still very striking is the feeling shared by teachers, students and parents, that they are abandoned, that they are discriminated against. They say that there may be money for City policy or priority education policy, but they hardly see the color. This feeling of discrimination and of being considered by public authorities as sub-citizens, sub-students, sub-teachers was strongly expressed at ongoing meetings and mobilizations.

These students are increasingly helpless in the face of the demands placed on them.

We can observe, in some of the institutions with the greatest difficulties, a policy of flow management without the possibility of solving or reducing the students’ difficulties. This leads to a certain number of them moving from one class to another, without having fulfilled the basically necessary conditions for it. These students are increasingly helpless in the face of the demands placed on them. And when you are helpless in the face of the trials that are thrust upon you, your self-confidence takes a hit.

Which can lead to the development of resentment towards the school, towards the teachers, especially when they don’t live there and seem to come from another world. The school is perceived, and rightly so, as undesirable for students from the working class, and quite deeply unequal in the ways of defining school culture, in the methods of educational work that are promoted in classes.

In addition to improving the working and learning conditions of teachers and students, transforming this situation is the question and challenge of this movement for an emergency plan for schools in Seine-Saint-Denis.

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