They had predicted a dark day in National Education and they put their threats into action. Many teachers, daycare centers, school directors, principals, principals, Aesh (accompanying persons with disabilities) gathered at Place Edmond-Rostand in Paris, despite the cold. The ministry having announced the same morning that 38.5% of teachers were on strike in the primary while the SNUipp-FSU, the first primary union, announced 75% of strikers. In middle and high schools, 23.7% of teachers are mobilized, according to the ministry, while the Snes-FSU, the first secondary school union, announced 62% of strikers.
They came to cry out their exasperation at the waltz of health protocols, of course, but their anger seems to crystallize around the Minister of Education, as the banners attest. “Blanquer, school of misery”, “Blanquer, the virus is you”, “Blanquer resignation”. Some recent media outings by the minister have gone badly, as evidenced by some signs: “We do not strike against the virus, but against Blanquer”, we can read.
“I demonstrate against the lies of my minister”
The demonstrators rush on the asphalt and go up the boulevard Saint-Michel in the direction of the Ministry of Education. Some came with their children, others with their colleagues. Guillemette, a teacher in a college in Villeneuve Saint-Georges (Val-de-Marne) even made a doll in the image of the minister, wearing a virus: “It is the height of contempt. It took two years to order surgical masks when we have staff in permanent contact with students. We were the only ones confined to unventilated classrooms at 35, ”she says.
– Delphine Bancaud (@ bancaud1) January 13, 2022
Coming with her mother, a retired teacher, Pauline, a history-geo teacher in Corbeil-Essonnes (Essonne), brandishes a sign which reads: “When Blanquer passes, the school passes away”. “I demonstrate against the lies of my minister. Who said that Russian hackers had broken our ENT (digital work spaces) during the first confinement, who maintained before the deputies that he sent the health protocol to the teachers before revealing it in the press, who said that he would not close the schools just before the first confinement… We no longer trust him and neither does public opinion, ”she castigates.
“The 5 years that I have just lived have been the hardest of my career”
In the ranks of the demonstrators, there is plague against the non-replacement of sick teachers, the difficulty of doing class while sending work to absent students, the lack of useful materials against the virus (FFP2 masks, CO2 sensors, etc.), the overload of work involved in the management of contact cases …
Jérôme, SVT teacher at the college, also criticizes the management of the health crisis at the minister’s school: “The measures he announces seem improvised and totally out of step with what is happening on the ground”. And the record he makes of the minister’s action is not glorious: “He is a good little soldier who applies a liberal education policy and leads to a two-tier school. The 5 years that I have just lived have been the hardest of my career, ”he confides. “It is the Minister of Education who has the longest life. We must not have shouted loud enough in recent years for him to leave, ”also launches Stéphanie, a school teacher in Paris.
“There is a breaking point with Jean-Michel Blanquer”
In the ranks of union leaders, the discourse is hardly more polished. “The minister is no longer audible. There is no longer any chance that he will recover credit from the teachers. Moreover, some are on strike today when they never usually are,” says Stéphane Crochet, secretary general of SE-Unsa. A little further in the procession, Guislaine David, secretary general of SNUipp, is no more tender towards the tenant of rue de Grenelle: “There is a breaking point with Jean-Michel Blanquer. He must stop hammering that schools must remain open, without securing them. He is now very isolated in the government because he sticks to his positions. Moreover, it was the Prime Minister who took over the file of the management of Covid-19 in schools ”.
Only Bruno Bobkiewicz, secretary general of the SNPDEN-UNSA which represents the management staff, tries to depersonalize the debate: “We are not on an individual logic, but we just want to mean that these incessant changes in protocol no longer pass. Moreover, 30% of our members are on strike today,” he announced. An alert is displayed on the cellphones of the demonstrators. Prime Minister Jean Castex will receive the trade unions at the end of the afternoon, in the presence of the Minister of Education, but also that of Health, Olivier Véran (tested positive, who will be connected by videoconference). The sign of a disavowal for Jean-Michel Blanquer?