What Happened To Education After Hurricane Katrina?

Before Hurricane Katrina:
The schools were falling apart, and were 50 years old; some were more than 100 years old. 50-60 schools should have been torn down before the hurricane. Since 2002, there had been 24 crimes against school employees and $71 million in federal money was missing. New Orleans was one of the worst public school systems in the country. 70% of eighth graders were not proficient in math, and 74% in English. “The large majority of children ranked two or more years below grade level and 60% of teachers have less then 2 years of experience.” (Education Partnership)

Katrina Struck New Orleans:
After hurricane Katrina, out of 126 New Orleans public schools, only 16 were not damaged. Katrina hit and not only flooded schools but flooded the central office where the financial and management records were stored on computer disks. Bill Roberti went in the schools with police officers to rescue files. Once they were rescued, they payed nearly 4,000 teachers for their time before the hurricane. Right after the storm, the school board put everyone on “disaster leave” and told teachers to look for jobs somewhere else.

Start From Scratch:
There was lots of damage. After the hurricane, they had to rebuild the school system from scratch. There was mold which is dangerous for people to be around, and several feet of water in the schools.

Things they had to do so kids could come back:
• Mold testing- make sure there is no mold
• Contact bus services- so the kids can get to school
• Temporary housing- so teachers and students have somewhere to live
• Get food into the schools- cafeteria, kids on free lunch
• Clean schools
• Textbooks and supplies- get more
• Grade configurations- figure out who goes where
• Classes set up, curriculum- lost a lot of stuff, so had to redo it

*But before any of this was done they had to get the money to pay for it all.*

“Federal Education leaders said that they would consider broad requests for relief from states in the overwhelming Gulf Coast- meaning schools could get significantly more time to raise yearly test scores or to ensure that all their teachers are highly qualified.” (Fox News) Hundreds of thousands of displaced students will be attending school in a different district, or state.

Paying for it
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) covers 100% of emergency damage; it is responsible for only 75% of long-term costs. This situation is long-term, the FEMA doesn’t have to pay all of it.

“The 2 high schools and 6 elementary/middle schools that New Orleans hopes to open in November have the capacity to hold 7,000 students. As of now, officials are expecting around 3,000 to return. The pressure to get schools open is enormous; according to Louisiana State Department of Education, as m any as 20,000 displaced New Orleans students are not attending school anywhere.” (PBS-John Merrow)

68 traditional and charter schools are open now in 2008-2009.


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