There are few aspects of French education where it is as difficult to separate myth and reality as the relationship of national government to schools and localities. In the 1980s it was a theme of overriding importance, taking over from the relationship of government and teacher unions. In retrospect those battles, with their resonance of the class struggle, belong to the era in which the Communist Party and Marxist ideology were still strong (see Jospin on the ‘educational professionals’).