Western educational policies consider it possible to combine equality and excellence by the means of policies promoting “equal opportunity”. Following the motto “excellence for all”, the French educational system – which is a unified, coeducational system–aims to teach a whole age group with a curriculum that was conceived for the children of the upper class. Thus, public schooling has become a tracking machine that reproduces social, gendered and ethnic hierarchies, as children’s achievements are conditioned by these sociological ascriptions. Political conflict around education opposes a dominant conservative class, which intends to maintain their privileged position in the name of “excellence”, to some feminist and union movements. The first are opposed to the building of a common curriculum and argue against education for gender equality public schools. The latter champion these goals, in the name of a democratic conception of equal access for all to all kinds of knowledge and skills.
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