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‘Stylos rouges’ teacher movement grows across France

The Connexion, Jan 4

France has seen protests from "gilets jaunes" and "gyros bleus", but now a new movement of school teachers and educators, dubbed the "stylos rouges (red pens)", is gathering pace online.

The group, which calls itself “angry teachers” and says it is aligned with the gilets jaunes movement but represents educators especially, was created on December 12.

It has now attracted more than 41,700 members on its main Facebook Group; a major site of support for many of the protest movements seen in recent months.

The private group - which one must request to join - describes itself as for “angry teachers and members of national educational [establishments]”. It includes teachers from primary schools, collèges, and lycées (middle and high schools) from across the country.

The movement’s main objective is to have its “much derided profession re-evaluated”, with the importance of educators’ work recognised by the State.

The group is also calling for higher pay, and an end to the current freeze on public sector calculation points regarding annual inflation pay rises.

The stylos rouges have also demanded the appointment of more teachers, to allow smaller classes; and many supporters have called for the rejection or reform of the Bac examination and Parcoursup, the controversial new entry method for university education.

The page reads: “It is time that the State takes care of its teachers too. If you think that it is high time that we make ourselves heard, that union offers are no longer enough, that we too have been forgotten and badly treated by our dear employer...then join our movement!”

Grégory Benjamin, professor at a collège in Valenciennes (Nord, Hauts-de-France), said: “We have seen that the gilets jaunes managed to achieve some steps forward, even if it was only breadcrumbs. But none of the government’s decisions help teachers, even though we too are suffering from higher taxes; electricity bills and others.”

But in response, the MP for Isère, Cendra Motin, countered that teachers would benefit from some gilets jaunes concessions, including the government’s decision not to tax any pay for overtime, up to a maximum of €5,000 per year.

Yet, certain stylos rouges have hit back at this suggestion, saying that they already work many more hours than the national stipulation of 35 per week anyway - regardless of pay - including teaching, pre-lesson preparation, and post-lesson marking.

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