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The Lost Children of Katrina

Susan Notes:

As you read this article about the tragedy that still confronts the children of Katrina, remember what Arne said:

'Let me be really honest. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina. That education system was a disaster, and it took Hurricane Katrina to wake up the community to say that 'We have to do better.'" --quoted in Washington Post, Jan. 30, 2010

Certainly, it was the 'best thing' for charters and privatizers, but as this article in The Atlantic points out, a decade after the hurricane, New Orleans' community grapples with the effects of missed schooling and mass displacement. It is a tragic story. The article draws on research found in Dialogue: A Quarterly Technical Assistance Journal on Disaster Behavioral Health Produced by the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center. (pdf)

One reader calls this Atlantic piece 'yellow journalism,' saying the Texas Tribune provided a more accurate account. One might note that the "success" provided New Orleans students in Houston is based on information from the Texas Education Agency.

by Katy Reckdahl

Ten years ago, the Lee family evacuated from New Orleans to a Houston neighborhood so rife with hostility for evacuees that the ice-cream truck refused to stop for them. At the corner store, the clerk threw their money back rather than serve them. Peers called them "refugees," as if they weren̢۪t from this country, and suggested they "swim home" to New Orleans rather than burden Houston, said Devante Lee, who was 11 when Hurricane Katrina hit.

At the new school that Devante̢۪s 14-year-old sister, Cessileh, attended, young New Orleanians regularly fought Houston students. So their mother kept her sons home rather than expose them to harm.

They ended up missing school for an entire year. . . .
Note: The Atlantic doesn't allow reposting of articles. Continue reading here.

— Katy Reckdahl
The Atlantic


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