Peillon versus Estrosi

Politicians play the blame game after they fail to meet about education reforms

The national education reform, which has been partly implemented across the region, is once more at the centre of a political debate between right and left. Both the mayor of Nice and the education minister are blaming each other for a failed meeting to discuss the reforms.

Mayor Christian Estrosi and his allies characterised the incident as a show of anti-republican behaviour. The right wing politicians requested a meeting with the education minister, who was visiting the Alpes Maritimes on Friday 10th January, to discuss the controversial education reforms that were voted into law last year, but still remain opposed by some local mayors.

Approximately 2,000 teachers and parents protested the reforms in Nice last November

Peillon reportedly refused the meeting, claiming the request was submitted too late and did not fit into his schedule, which included a visit to Patrick Allemand, a socialist party candidate in the upcoming mayoral race in Nice.

In a joint statement, Nice’s Mayor, as well as Cagnes’ Mayor Louis Nègre, Alpes Maritimes’ General Council President Eric Ciotti and Councillor Rudy Salles, said the minister “refused to meet with lawmakers, mayors and other elected politicians. He did, however, find time for the socialist candidate in the municipal elections to discuss the education reforms, which was the very topic of the meeting we requested.”

On his twitter account, Estrosi said the minister “preferred campaigning for the socialist party over meeting with the mayors.”

The ministry said in a press release that Estrosi had sent the request late on Thursday evening. Since it didn’t fit in Vincent Peillon’s schedule, George Pau-Langevin, the minister of educational success, interrupted her visit to a local high school in order to meet with Estrosi and other Nice politicians.

“After having waited for the delegation, George Pau-Langevin noted that Nice’s mayor did not wish to be present at a meeting he had himself requested!” the statement read. “The minister is surprised by this unrepublican behaviour and wonders about the reasons which prevented talks from taking place between the government and Christian Estrosi.”

Socialist candidate Patrick Allemand added salt to the wound by calling Estrosi’s attitude disgraceful on Twitter. “Disgraceful rudeness. Minister George Pau-Langevin waited at the prefectural palace for Christian Estrosi, who had asked for a meeting. Never showed up, nor apologised.”

The major issue in the educational reforms is the school week, changing from four days to four and a half days a week. A few schools in the Alpes Maritimes chose to adopt the new rhythm in 2013, but the reform must be fully implemented this September. Following a protest from teachers’ unions and parents last November, Estrosi and 50 other right wing mayors stated they would not be implementing the new school rhythms.

Also published on the Riviera Times Online