Texas has sheltered the lions share of the Hurricane Katrina Evacuees, with Houston, Dallas and San Antonio picking up the majority.
The storms have moved on , the shelters are closing and back in New Orleans the 9th Ward is still uninhabitable. FEMA is giving out housing vouchers. Needless to say, apartments with 4 figure rents and 100% occupancy aren't interested so they are being dispersed into the poorer parts of city. From poverty to poverty.
Our attendance zone includes one such complex. And we're getting Katrina Evacuees at the rate of 3 & 4 a day. So far we have 20, and more are expected. It's playing havoc with our demographics.
We'd always heard the New Orleans public schools were in deplorable condition and that anyone who could opted out for private school. The children we're enrolling come from homes were there wasn't the drive, the initiative or the inner resources to accept anything but the mediocre education that was doled out. And mediocre it was. Every student has been at least 1 and often 2 or 3 years below grade level. Flunking appears to be only remedial intervention offered. We now have 5th graders (normally 10 going on 11) who are 12 going on 13. One showed up last week who just turned 13. We've a 2nd grader who is 9 going on 10. The first graders have been retained only once, but hey, it's early in their school career.
The children come with baggage that would be daunting without the complications of a major hurricane - poverty, 4 generation welfare mentality, emotional problems, fathers in jail, grandmothers serving as mothers, multiple step stair siblings with multiple fathers, prenatal drug exposure and every learning disability in the books.
And there in lies the real problem. These children need so many resource teachers, so many intervention specialists, so much diagnostic testing and so much counseling. And there isn't anyone to do it. Our resource and special ed teachers can barely keep up with their current students, our counselor hasn't enough hours in her day for her standard caseload and it takes weeks to get a child tested so he/she can receive services.
Our scenario is being played out in many schools throughout Texas. No funding appears to be forthcoming. Despite No Child Left Behind, many, many of these children are so behind that they can't even reach the starting line, much less finish the high stakes test race we call education.
When it comes to Iraq, No Cannons are being left behind but when it comes to education many children certainly are.