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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Ou est la République ?

by Jean-Emmanuel Ducoin

What Happened to the Republic ?

Translated Sunday 28 February 2010, by Kristina Wischenkamper and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Videosurveillance will never solve problems of violence in schools. Schools are suffering first and foremost from a cut-back in teaching posts.

What’s peculiar about dissent is that it pinpoints the real fracture lines in a society that’s going down the drains. In these bewildering times of oppression of the weakest and the desire to divide, the teachers’ revolt in Île-de-France is witness not only to a profound uneasiness buried deep within a mistreated profession but also to a fierce republican will to reverse this infernal trend of impoverishment of means. The boiling pot is about to explode. If it hasn’t already done so ...

The matter is much more serious than Luc Chatel might think. Disdainful at first then downright obtuse in his refusal to accede to the “right to withdrawal” [1] of the teachers of the Adolphe-Chérioux high school in Vitry, calling them “deserters”, he finally gave in under pressure from the “General Assembly for security at schools” whose repressive title might legitimately worry us ... Speaking of which, is it really contradictory to ask for human means of assuring a minimum of safety in schools? Deprived of qualified supervisors, assistant teachers, specialised helpers for children with difficulties, school nurses, career advisors, and so on, these are thinning out operations of which the teachers are victims as much as the students. Some 50,000 jobs will soon have been cut since 2007 … Of course we can’t let pass the slightest act of violence in schools, but we’ll never bow to the idea that in every public space a logic of videosurveillance should be deployed – the ultra-securitarian freedom-killer that the Prince-President dreams of. The fearmongering criminogenic empire he is founding won’t solve anything. Police states don’t bother themselves with social issues …

The active support given by students’ parents that’s been seen at all the protesting schools isn’t fortuitous. The education system has never been nor ever will be a sanctuary disconnected from the real world. It too is being hit full-on by the Sarkozian assaults of which social insecurity is the overarching emblem. How else can you explain that 49% of teachers suffer from a sense of feeling unappreciated and say they are fed up to the back teeth. Pupils who don’t respect them and turn back on them a part of the violence their own families suffer; hierarchies that infantilise them; ministers that ignore their working conditions, the understaffing … the number of teachers who dream of quitting, formerly marginal, is now at nearly 35%. Let’s dare mention that last taboo: do we make it known often enough that the teaching profession currently has the highest rates of suicide?

Yet another statistic should give us pause for thought: 30% of the incidents recorded take place in just 5% of schools. Guess which ones? Those in the poorer urban areas of course, where that rare pleasure of solidarity is still known, as well as the price to be paid for inequality. Their conditions of existence, the root of all evil, attain such a degree of social atomization here that the simplest acts of life for the youngest are no longer assured. Do the ruling parties know how the children in these areas live, where unemployment is over 40% and every second person lives below the poverty line? Everything is subject to the way you look at it, to your conception of society. For that reason alone we can very well do without surveillance cameras. Seriously, tell me: What’s happened to the Republic when education is no longer the cradle of our civilisation?

[1the legal right to leave the workplace when their personal security is not assured

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