Si la carte scolaire fait l’objet d’un débat si vif en France, c’est qu’elle cristallise des enjeux fondamentaux. Ce débat est celui de la possibilité de maintenir la mixité comme horizon pertinent des politiques urbaines et scolaires. Read More
The ‘carte scolaire’ refers to the system in France according to which children are assigned to a school close to their place of residence. This system is currently the object of intense debate as it crystallises fundamental issues in French society today. It has not managed to play it’s role of social melting pot and indeed at times has been seen to contribute to the reinforcement of segregation. For that reason, current debate also focuses on whether or not it is possible to maintain the ideal of creating a social melting pot as a relevant aim for urban and scholastic policies.
Based on the study of a suburb to the west of Paris, the author offers a detailed analysis of the urban and school environments within which households function. The result is a far more complex situation than that of a mere avoidance strategy on the part of the middle classes. The availability of schools and the carte scolaire system have an impact on the different social classes in a profoundly unequal way, to the advantage of the upper classes.
The question therefore is not whether to be for or against the carte scolaire system but to shed light on how the game is played. Who stands to gain from urban and school segregation? Who are the winners and who are the losers in the application of the carte scolaire system ? Who would benefit from it being abandoned?
This book pleads for a profound reform of the system. However, maintaining the goal of social diversity at schools is also a political choice in the strong sense of the term which implies a vision of society and of its future. The author provides precise details of the issues involved and the effects of this vision on social cohesion.