Friday, October 12, 2012

French School System

     I had big plans for this week:  meetings with scholars and plans for work at ENS-Lyon.
     So on Monday, I showed up at the Ecole des Entrepots, all excited for Lucy to have a full day of school -- and for me to have a full day of work. Turns out one of the teachers was out sick, so they were asking parents to keep their kids home in the afternoon. You could say no, but then they would parcel your kid out to another class so they could reach a better ratio. I don't think that's a recipe for success, given what a hard time she's having with the idea of full days. So she stayed for lunch and I picked her up at 1:30.  Since her teacher was going to be out sick for the entire week, it meant that I had to pick her up at 11:30 every other day.
    Then, on Thursday, I went to pick Lucy up and found Kate in Lucy's classroom. My first thought was "Oh no, lice!" But no, Kate's teacher was sick, so they parceled the kids out to all the classes...and sent Kate to preschool, where she was helping the four year olds with crafts and gymnastics.  Since I was already bringing Lucy home, I brought Kate home, too.  Then, about an hour later, I got a call from the principal, telling me that Molly's teacher was going to be sick tomorrow as well, so I am keeping all the girls. I really think I am not supposed to get any work doon Friday (along with Kate's and Lucy's).  So I just kept them all home.  
     This makes me wonder a few things.  I wonder if "sick" is code for "strike."  I suspect it's not, or they would have said, but perhaps they have a reason.  More importantly, I wonder what this says about childcare and the French public school system.  I saw many grandparents arriving to pick up the kids in Kate and Lucy's classes.  What do single parents or people without flexible jobs or without family backup do?  Often in the U.S., people point to Europe --and notably, France -- as a country that has solved the problem of childcare and working, but this experience doesn't seem to demonstrate to me the truth of that statement.

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