French teachers are on strike today, January 26th. Many primary and secondary schools are expected to close and there will be rallies in many of the major towns.

The original strike call for teachers was over the reform of secondary schools, which teachers say has not been properly negotiated with them and which will lead to increased segrgation of education to the detriment of low income communities. The public school curriculum is being curtailed so that for instance classical languages are no longer taught. Teachers fear this will see many better off parents deserting the public system. 

The plans have been developed as a response to a panic about France's position in the so-called PISA international league tables, another typical example of how such tests spawn ill-thought out reforms, as politicians scramble to show that 'their' education system can compete with the 'best in the world.'

The government is demanding more cross-curricular work, which many teachers would see as a positive thing, but not if it has not been properly thought out and funded, in such a way that it does not create hours of extra work for already overworked teachers.

The strike will be about much more than the secondary reforms however as all the main public sector unions have called their members out with the teachers to demand more funding for public services, an end to austerity policies and to precarious work.