The measure, eliminated in the Senate, provided for the establishment of institutions that included a college and one or more schools, which worried parents, teachers and local elected officials.
A lot of noise for nothing ? This is what we could think, after the debates that were held Friday, May 17, in the Senate, on "public institutions of basic knowledge." Senators have indeed maintained the deletion of Article 6 quater, creating institutions that include a college and one or more schools. It was adopted by the Assembly on February 19, on an amendment by LRM MP Cécile Rilhac.
The Senate Committee had decided to delete the amendment of Mme Rilhac, with the stated purpose of proposing its rewriting in open session. One way to show that the Senate had "Heard" the concerns of the educational community and elected officials on this topic, then said Max Brisson (LR), rapporteur of the law. But this is another score that was played in the hemicycle when studying the rewrite amendment, tabled by Jacques Grosperrin (LR), who renamed the project "Local public institutions of common core" : after many critical interventions by senators, right and left, and a notice of 'Wisdom' the Minister of National Education, the Senator finally withdrew his amendment. The school-college groupings will not see the day, in any case not under the law Blanquer "For a school of trust".
A controversial amendment
Why has this project been debated to the point of outright withdrawal of the legislation? In the version of the Assembly, the "public institutions of basic knowledge" were to bring together, under the same administrative entity, a college and one or more schools of the same living area, on the basis of an agreement between the municipality (which manages the school) and the department (which runs the college). The original text provided for the principal (s) to become assistant to the principal. Grouped establishments could – or could not – be physically gathered on the same site.
Thought for the rural areas, these groups quickly worried the educational community, the unions and some elected officials. SNUipp, the majority union in the first degree, argued for the maintenance of a "Specificity" elementary school, and for a better consideration of the opinion of teachers in such projects. Teachers' unions regretted the lack of consultation on this project added to the text of the law through an amendment and without prior consultation or opinion of the Council of State. They saw it as a way of saving posts and premises, in short, a " Trojan horse " for another governance of the education system, especially in rural areas where small schools are located – there are 45,000 in the territory with less than four classes.
The Grosperrin amendment provided for the resolution of a number of concerns, including that groupings should be on a voluntary basis and with the agreement of all parties, including the board of directors of the college, and the school council. It also provided that any physical movement of a class or school could not be done without the agreement of all parties. The concern over the place of the school principals should be, in the opinion of the Senate majority, absorbed by the maintenance of another amendment of the commission which provides for a "Hierarchical status" for school directors.
Fears for rural schools
Nevertheless, senators have expressed long-term concerns, fearing that clusters will contribute to increased closures of rural schools. "It is one of the pains of this government to have to assume anguish whose roots go back to the past two years, commented Jean-Michel Blanquer. This is the case for rural schools, which are less likely to close than under the previous five-year period. "
The Minister has long regretted the controversies on this subject, which he recalled "Neither a political calculation nor an economic calculation", before filing a wisdom opinion on this amendment. "We can not not hear (…) the tone of the suspicion that has been expressed particularly strongly on these issues"he argued. "We still need discussion and time. (…) It is not a subject of the next days within the framework of this law, but of the coming months, to have the widest possible consultation with the associations of elected officials and with the unions. "
The law "For a school of trust", whose examination should extend until the evening of May 17, will be the subject of a solemn vote on May 21, before being presented to a mixed joint commission, at a date still unknown.