Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Welcome Mat is Worn Out

It’s been 9 months since Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and the levies gushed forth and floated a goodly portion of the population toward Houston.

The city prides itself on being friendly and hospitable and Houston tossed out a Texas size welcome mat. The families got housing assistance, medical care; help with schools, jobs, clothes and food. The private charities did their best to circumvent the mismanagement of FEMA.

Turns out New Orleans had some very ugly little secrets, which the floodwaters also swept west to Texas. The school system didn’t seem to put much emphasis on reading, writn’ and arithmetic. Nor on school routines, discipline, manners or even regular attendance. Given that many of our new residents had never been traveled beyond the city limits many of the adults are products of the same school system. To call them barely literate is being generous.

Most of the children flunked the stated mandated TAKS test. This year their scores don’t count, next year they will. Principals and teachers are already shivering in their shoes.

All teachers are fagged out by this time of year, but many look down right beaten down.
The children are a challenge; they come complete with a great deal of emotional baggage massive chips on their shoulders. Bullying and intimidation are the standard mode of operation. As far as they are, concerned fists are the first and last solution to all problems. Considering how our crime rate has risen the adults take the same approach, only they use guns and knives.

A couple of teachers are giving serious thoughts to retiring.

As one said “I just can’t face the thought of another class like this one next year”.

Many of the New Orleans children are being retained so the teachers she will indeed, face a class “just like this one” again next year.

Working with the parents is difficult – they are quick to call the race card, and blame it for everything and anything that their children might do or do not do. Doesn’t really hold water in a school that is 85% Hispanic, with both Hispanic and African American administrators but they call it anyway.

One bit of fallout that nobody anticipated is that some of our better families, those who are hard working and who care about their kids and education are moving our of our neighborhood apartment complexs. .

One Mom told me “It was a decent apartment complex till the owner decided he wanted all that FEMA money. We’re moving as soon as school is out”.

We’ve worked so hard to improve the climate and the education at our school, it hurts to see us going backward through no fault of our own.


landismom said...

The worst part about this is that it seems to be pitting working class families against the poor. It's just really sad.

"Ms. Cornelius" said...

I had two Katrina kids-- we called them the Fugees (the one thought it up, and it WAS pretty funny.)

Good Fugee was a sweetheart and told the kids how lucky they were to have all this stuff like computers and textbooks in their school. He said "Yes ma'am" and "No ma'am" like he meant it. It was like having Ashley Wilkes in class.

Bad Fugee was a scary, large dude with an attitude. He actually snapped his fingers at me in an attempt to get my attention-- and I mean in a disrespectful way. Three of my girls nearly smacked him over it. Shed no tears when he returned, let me tell you.

Julie said...

I read an article in the paper recently that talked about how many Katrina kids just aren't going to school at all anymore. No one's really keeping track of them and they just hang out in the FEMA trailer park all day. What future do they have? So sad.