Here in condensed form is the biography of Vincent Peillon, the new Minister of Education, taken from Le Parisien dated May 16, 2012.
His name was always mentioned among those most qualified to take charge of the second most important budget of the nation, after the payment of the debt. Tomorrow, Eurodeputy Vincent Peillon will take on the "Mammoth".
Note: The "debt" in question is the public debt, i.e., welfare, Social Security, etc… French readers can read more about the colossal French public debt at Chrétienté, where they will learn that it will reach 87.4% of the Gross National Product, or more than 1600 billion euros. The "Mammoth" is the national education budget.
Another view of the debt is in this article from The Economist, dated March 31, 2012. I provide it for those interested in the topic. The gist is that all the candidates skirted or ignored the most important issue confronting France: the financial disaster that lies ahead. Marine Le Pen had raised the question many times, but it is not likely that The Economist takes her seriously.
Peillon already knows what his job will be. On May 15, on the occasion of his homage to Jules Ferry, François Hollande listed the education reforms he intended to pass: the creation of 60,000 jobs, training of teachers, priority to the "working class neighborhoods" and to the "forgotten rural zones."
This trained professor, with an agrégation (note: a graduate teaching degree) and a doctorate in philosophy, is an astute connoisseur of socialist and republican thinkers and the heir of a family of doctors and researchers. At 51 years of age he "knows the school system by heart", comments a socialist leader. He was a high-school philosophy teacher from 1984 to 1997 in Lyon, Calais and Nanterre, a education teacher in la Nièvre before entering politics late in the 90's when he joined the Socialist Party.
Vincent Peillon's grandfather, Léon Blum was professor of medicine, his mother Françoise was director of research at Inserm and his maternal uncle is Étienne-Émile Baulieu, developer of the abortion pill RU 486.
Note: His grandfather, Léon Blum, is not to be confused with the famous politician of the 1930's of the same name.
Inserm is the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, founded in 1964.
"I grew up among Nobel Prize winners and professors at the Collège de France," he said to Valérie Trierweiler for Paris Match in 2005, recalling "endless, very political discussions at home with the Jewish and republican intellectual milieu."
After he entered politics he continued to write books on socialist and republican thinkers such as Pierre Leroux and Jean Jaurès, and Ferdinand Buisson, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
His friend and supporter Pascal Terrasse says of him: "He is still a researcher in his heart, not just by training. He will draw on the history of the Left and the French Revolution to construct the future. He lives in the real world, he's a reformer, but he has a very strong socialist ideal, that can sometimes turn into romanticism."
Since he entered the Socialist Party, Peillon has changed several times aligning himself first with Arnaud Montebourg and then with Ségolène Royal, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and François Hollande.
But there is, in this son of a Communist banker, a rigor that is more to the left of the Socialist Party: he urged a "no" vote in the referendum on the European Constitution and opposed financial crimes and money-laundering in Europe. He was elected Eurodeputy in 2004 and 2009.
Note: The two biggest groups that oppose the EU are the pro-sovereignty nationalists such as the Front National, and the extreme-Left, such as the Communist Party. Peillon appears to align himself with the extreme-Left on this issue.
Wikipedia informs us that his father Gilles Peillon (1928 - 2007) was a banker and a Communist. He was the CEO of the first Soviet bank outside of the USSR, the Banque Commerciale pour l'Europe du Nord - Eurobank, then of the Franco-Algerian Bank: Union méditerranéenne.
This father of four, who jogs daily, advocates a "republican recasting around the School". He was coordinator of the youth-higher-education-research team of candidate Hollande and intends to "recreate the common culture". He declared: "In 1882 the republicans created Normal schools, we have the same ambition today with the advanced schools for the training of teachers."
Note: Some of his ideas are difficult to conceptualize. He wants to "recast" the French Republic around the school, i.e., place the School at the center of the life of the Republic. He also has promised that after the 2012 school year has begun he will create schools of higher learning for the training of teachers. This is similar to what we call "Teachers Colleges" or "Schools of Education." These colleges in America have been largely a failure due to the unrealistic doctrines that govern them. Most teachers, despite this training, and because of it, are not prepared for the severe hardships they encounter in today's classrooms.
Vincent Peillon has been indoctrinated since childhood into the values of the Left and the Republic. He is clearly incapable of seeing any other potentiality in education except as a vector for those values. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the intractable and often violent behavior of immigrants, with the wide discrepancies in aptitudes between French children and those from other cultures, with the painful frustrations of the teachers who have to make it look as if they are properly teaching a subject , when in truth they are gearing their lessons to the demands of the immigrant children and their parents. And what will he do about restoring the teaching of the past, the history of the French monarchy, the grandeur of the culture, and the critical role of Christianity? French children today know much less about figures such as Clovis and Napoleon than they did fifty years ago. Will the cultural decline stop or accelerate under Vincent Peillon?
Labels: Education, Ministers, Vincent Peillon