Teacher’s Strike in Paris

13 Feb

Yesterday, elementary schools across all of Paris were closed due to a massive teachers strike. Teachers are angry about the new educational reforms and aren’t afraid to show it. It’s super refreshing, by the way, that not a single talking head has had a “won’t anyone think of the children?” moment and it’s just accepted that of course teachers have a right to strike. For some reason, this reminds me of my hometown, where the teachers were not legally allowed to go on strike. Their complaints about not having a contract dragged on for years and years. If they had been able to do more than picket the drop-off line before class, they might have actually gotten shit done. But I digress.

Teachers overwhelmingly supported Francois Hollande in last years election, so it’s a little unusual to see him alienate them. Everyone agrees that France needs some sort of educational reform and Hollande campaigned on educational reform and increasing the school budget. The new proposed reforms would add a half-day on Wednesdays and reduced class time for the rest of the week. However, the mayor’s plan was to lengthen the lunch break by an hour in order to comply with the reform but so that school would let out at the same time. Teachers would be required to remain at their posts for that hour without compensation. Nothing like being asked to work for free to make you really, really irritated.

The teacher’s union has complained loudly about the proposed reforms, saying that the government should be lowering class size and increasing the number of special ed classes for children with learning difficulties. These reforms have nothing to do with improving education for the kids – the half-day on Wednesday would be reserved for cultural and sports activities. The strike has widespread support, so this might spread to outside of Paris if the Socialist-led government doesn’t listen. I’m with the teachers on this one.

 

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