“For decades, because they are the first educators of their children, we have strengthened the place of parents in school”, notes LR deputy Annie Genevard. “A factor in student success. But there is also a dark aspect to this involvement, when it leads families to delegitimize the teacher by questioning the nature of the knowledge provided. Or when the parents deem the teacher unfounded to bring up subjects – such as Islam, dealt with in the history program – of which they consider themselves the exclusive custodians ”, continues the Vice-President of the Assembly. For this former French teacher, “It is urgent to re-examine the role of parents in the institution”.
A challenge for the organizations of parents of pupils, in particular the large federations, which are struggling to draw their legitimacy from the ballot box (in primary education, in the last elections, the FCPE only received 11% of the votes, the PEEP 2%) . “We suffer from a wider weakening of the intermediate bodies which favors a rise in individualisms”, deplores Anne Pieter, co-president of the FCPE in Seine-Saint-Denis. “However, we are helping to bring a new co-education to life, by offering training and parenting cafes. We present the interlocutors that can be contacted, what is done and what is not done, such as reporting problems on social networks, a fortiori by providing the names of teachers … “
Knowledge, not opinions or beliefs
“While there is an increasingly frequent break between family culture and school culture, while our society gives the impression that everything can be negotiated, teachers must also, from the start of the year, remind parents of what can be discussed, the frequency of checks, for example, and what cannot, such as the content of lessons ”, pleads Jean-Louis Auduc, member of the Council of the wise men of secularism.
“Regarding the programs, they must tell them that they are themselves musicians performing a score written by the Nation, he insists, and that school, including religious education, provides knowledge and not beliefs or opinions. They can challenge the programs in their hearts, but the laws must apply. “
One of the risks, notes Rémy-Charles Sirvent, secretary general of the National Secular Action Committee (Cnal), is to see the student caught “In a conflict of loyalty likely to harm their academic investment” when the values of the family clash with those of the school. According to a 2018 Ifop-Cnal study, 36% of teachers had already been confronted by parents with a challenge to the law prohibiting the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols. “This calls for a real response in terms of training. “ But, continues the one who is also national secretary of SE-UNSA, “In 98% of cases, the dialogue made it possible to resolve the problem”.
The intervention of external actors
However, it is more difficult when outside organizations get involved, as we saw in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and as Christophe (1), director of a school under priority education in the south of France. “A teacher recalled that parents accompanying school trips should refrain from any proselytizing. Alerted, associative activists saw Islamophobia and exerted various pressures on the school. “ An incident followed by the intelligence services.
In 1993, Christophe also lived the “Day of withdrawal”, born from a rapprochement of part of the extreme right with Muslim circles, in reaction to the ABCD of equality, a program of equality for boys. – girls denounced by some as a vector of gender theory. “Out of 200 children, between ten and twenty, from Muslim or evangelical families, were absent. It was psychologically violent to see parents convinced that children were going to be shown pornographic images. Director of the school for years, I was able to convince them that in the event that there was harmful content, I would have served as a filter. “