The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Return to School:
Big Mess and No Resources

Jan 17, 2022

This article is from a recent edition of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

Teachers’ and high school students’ unions and parents’ associations have called for a strike on January 13th to denounce the unacceptable situation existing in schools as students return from the holiday break.

Parents are disoriented, finding themselves forced to pick up their children sometimes in the middle of the day. And then they wait for hours in front of the pharmacies, which are completely overwhelmed by the demands for testing and vaccination. Seventy-five thousand children and 3,000 adults are isolating from French schools. Principals must verify dozens of certificates, to prove that children may return to class. Teachers find themselves in front of sparse classes. They must field dozens of questions from families and students. Housekeeping staff are obliged to do the work of sick co-workers. School nurses find they can no longer take care of any ailments except Covid....

The minister of education brags about leaving classrooms open—although 10,800 classrooms still had to close, or three times more than before the holidays—but above all, he has made a huge mess in schools and disorganized everyone’s lives and families. He has absolutely no concern to guarantee that thousands of young people, whether at elementary, middle or high school, have good conditions to study.

For the past two years, no additional positions have been created, no teaching or substitute positions. In some working class suburbs of Paris, the parents of students who called for a demonstration on January 13, denounced the fact that 70 teachers were out sick and have not been replaced since students have returned—in a district with 27 schools. Thousands of teachers and monitors have not been hired or replaced, likewise school nurses. The lack of space to split classes and allow students healthy educational conditions, means, with classes of 35 students, even with air filters, the situation is impossible.

Besides simplifying the health protocols until they are virtually abolished, and requesting retired teachers to come back, the education minister has put nothing concrete in place. He has dug in his heels, and responds only with contempt. He says everything will be kept in place, including the special graduation exams that arrive in a few weeks for some. It’s just too bad for those who will not be able to attend and for those who will not have been able to take the courses.

This attitude deserves only one answer: as many people as possible into the streets on January 13, and afterwards.