14th journées Louis-André Gérard-Varet

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Municipalities as test-tube of laboratory federalism Evidence from the implementation of the French school rhythm reform
Aurélie Cassette, Etienne Farvaque

Last modified: 2015-05-06


Several elements combine to make the recent school rhythm in France a case study in “laboratory federalism” in education. As mayors face numerous options in the implementation of the reform, they must choose the ones that are the most appropriate to local needs (and funds). There is thus considerable scope for experimentation and, potentially, imitation. To study the extent of these, we use an original database for French municipalities over 3,500 inhabitants, describing the details of the school schedules decided by each municipality. We distinguish municipalities that implemented the reform in September 2013 from those that implemented the reform in September 2014. The aim is to check whether budgetary constraints have prevailed in the municipal choice of schedules or if choices have been made in accordance with local characteristics and needs. We also highlight how latecomer municipalities imitated the "good" practices observed in the pioneering ones. Our results reveal mimicking in the adoption of a schedule in line with the spirit of reform, and also on the derogation to place 5th class on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, our results show that budgetary and logistical considerations have had a decisive impact on the definition of schedules, rather than the needs of children (and particularly the specific needs of the most disadvantaged children).


local public policy, laboratory federalism, mimicking, education