In an unusual role reversal, French parents revolted yesterday, demonsrating at the Ministry of Education.
The rallying cry? "Replace teachers who are absent!"
In France, students currently lose ONE YEAR of school due to absent teachers who are not replaced.
National Education' chronic inability to perform this basic task of administration has poisoned relations between schools and parents for years.
Every possible solution has been shot down by teacher's unions. Xavier Darcos floated some innovative ideas--including a kind of separate agency for managing substitutes, but they were disavowed and he's gone.
Luc Chatel, the current Minister of Education, is giving it another try. His solutions?
1) report absences immediately (instead of waiting 14 days as is the current practice)
2.) More flexibility in assigning substitutes geographically (the current system is rigid and impractical)
3) Let each school identify potential substitute teachers including calling up retired teachers and university students.
None of these ideas are particularly radical. All could help ease the situation.
In other news, today French unions call 5 millions "fonctionnaires" to strike...
For more on the parents' revolt against absent teachers, see:
Le Parisien from January 19 (double page feature)