Children Slipping Further Behind after Katrina
A recent report published by the Southern Education Foundation, Inc. entitled “Education After Katrina: Time for a New Federal Response,” documents the complete lack of federal support for education access and opportunity in the Gulf Coast since Katrina. As Lynn Huntley, President of SEF, notes in her cover letter, “In the world’s richest nation it is hard to accept the neglect and poverty in the Gulf Coast region and the limited engagement of the federal government in education reconstruction.”
She goes on to report: “Two years after the storms, thousands of Gulf Coast children are still without needed early childhood care and education. Displaced students are still struggling without needed counseling and other services as they fall further and further behind. Schools remain inadequately repaired or staffed and are still unable to provide students with the resources, rigor and hope needed for excellence in educational achievement and attainment. Thousands of students of all ages have simply dropped out of view or out of school, and impoverished Gulf Coast institutions of higher education are still trying to fulfill their mission against the odds. The nation can and must do better.”
(A wealth of data is available from a Boston Consulting Group report entitled "The State of Public Education in New Orleans," June 2007.)
Particularly upsetting to me was news of the tens of thousands of students who missed some or all of the past two years of school. From what I’ve seen of the FEMA housing “parks,” the kids who are staying at home from school (from 15% to nearly 25% of the kids, depending on age group) are cooped up and far, far away from the resources they need to connect to society.
Not investing effectively to restore the homes, roads, hospitals, schools, offices, and historic treasures of the area is a conundrum and a waste. Not investing in the affected kids is a travesty. We’d love to hear from experts on the ground what can be done.