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The school uniform, for or against? Two deputies present their arguments

By Antoine Vermorel-Marques, LR deputy for Loire</p>For several months, attacks on the neutrality of public service have awakened a republican debate: the wearing of school uniforms.

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The school uniform, for or against? Two deputies present their arguments

By Antoine Vermorel-Marques, LR deputy for Loire

For several months, attacks on the neutrality of public service have awakened a republican debate: the wearing of school uniforms. Yesterday the instrument of an asserted meritocracy, the uniform is today a new weapon of the Republic in the face of communitarian demands. Last month, our teachers reported nearly 300 secular attacks. To guarantee neutrality, it is no longer enough to prohibit "the wearing of signs by which students ostensibly show a religious affiliation" (law of 2004), but to offer everyone the wearing of republican clothing. The uniform is also this powerful tool in the fight against inequalities thanks to which a child will not be judged by his comrades at the price of these clothes, nor harassed or denigrated. In this society of appearances, the school must be a sanctuary in which the pupil can blossom, reflect on what he is, and not on what he appears to be. The school allows the transmission of knowledge, and tomorrow with the uniform, of interpersonal skills. Because proper clothing is a sign of respect towards a third party. A third party who will be tomorrow for the child, a superior, an employer.

Since the Third Republic and the Ferry laws, the school has transmitted common values ​​and a harmonized conception of the social space to populations characterized by their diversity. In this continuity, the uniform must be national, offered to each child, in order to attenuate an already dizzying territorial and social divide.

Philosopher specializing in secularism, Catherine Kintzler evokes the idea that the school must "offer each child the luxury of a double life". Faced with the violence of the world around it, the school is a refuge for the child and the uniform, a means, making it possible to set aside, for a day, some of the worst failings of our society.

By Arthur Delaporte, PS deputy for Calvados

At a time when public schools are going through an unprecedented crisis, here is the myth of the eraser rag of inequalities, a fad of the right and the far right defended today by members of the majority. We know, however, the wearing of the blouse was not compulsory - including under the Third Republic - and was above all intended to protect oneself from ink. The uniform today remains the prerogative of the most exclusive private establishments. Imposing the wearing of a uniform in an attempt to hide the inequalities born of social reproduction would not change anything. The capital in the playground is easily measured by other markers: equipment or leisure are all elements of distinction...

The school that we defend is, on the contrary, that of the individual emancipation of the student, of equality in access to knowledge and to success. To wear a uniform is to weaken the possibility of building and asserting oneself in a collective.

And then how not to consider in this period of budgetary scarcity another absurdity. If responsibility for the uniform (acquisition, maintenance, etc.) fell to the parents, this would reinforce inequalities. If it returned to the state, it would be unreasonable. While students bundle up to fit in classrooms at 13°C, while the teaching profession such as the professions of educational assistant or support for students with disabilities are going through a major attractiveness crisis, for lack of revaluation in particular, and while we still know one of the worst ratios of the number of pupils for each teacher in Europe, one can only wonder about this sense of priorities. Leave to the conservatives the sea serpent of the uniform to try to conceal the shortcomings of the State. Let us prefer the real overhaul of the public service of education.

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