Does Hurricane Katrina Have an Effect on Post-K Children? Saturday, Aug 27 2011 

The premise of this story is that the disaster of Hurricane Katrina was the weather event and that 5-year old children are unaffected today. Not surprisingly they use the example of an uptown resident who now works for the RSD. But for the 118,000 blacks who never made it back, and the tens of thousands who could never find affordable housing or work, the Katrina disaster never stopped and its emotional impact on children is as strong as ever; the same is true for those who did return only to encounter a second disaster in healthcare, housing, employment, and political dispossession.  It is inconceivable that the emotional trauma and stress on parents does not affect children; that the child does not know the origins of their own emotional stress does not mean they are unaffected.

In many ways this is a “white blind spot” story that reflects how journalism is one version of reality constructed through the eyes and experiences of the author. This points out that even the way we define disaster is colored by race and class in ways that ignore the fate of those victimized by more than wind and water.

Lance Hill, Ph.D.

Note:  This is a guest blog post from Dr. Lance Hill.  As we all watch the east coast prepare to for Hurricane Irene, we can’t help but to reflect on our own activities 6 years ago this weekend.  The story referenced in Dr. Hill’s post is particularly painful to be because I know that many of the children who are in Kindergarten now, are definitely experiencing the negative effects of  the changes made in our school system after Katrina.   We all are affected and will be for a long time to come.   We will talk about how many of our children are affected by the changes to New Orleans Public Schools after Katrina at our press conference on Monday, August 29th at 5:30 PM.  The press conference will take place in front of John Mc Donogh Senior High School, 2426 Esplanade Ave.


Broken Promises: New Orleans Public School Reform Thursday, Aug 25 2011 

Students, teachers, parents, community members and the press are invited to join the John McDonogh Alumni Association, Parents Across America NOLA, the Downtown Neighborhood Improvement Association, and the Esplanade Ridge/Treme Civic Association in front of John McDonogh High School, 2426 Esplanade Avenue, at 5:30 PM on August 29, 2011 to commemorate the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, to review the state of public education in New Orleans six years later, and to set a course to save our schools.

Taking the fate of John McDonogh Senior High as an example of the failed policies and broken promises of the Recovery School District, advocates for children, teachers and community schools will gather to pray and to demonstrate our investment in our children and our schools.  We will be asking hard questions about the ways charter schools have negatively affected our children and about the scandals and failures of charter schools and RSD-run schools.  Together we will assert our right to a democratic voice in how schools are rebuilt, what schools are rebuilt, and who runs the schools in our communities.

We will look at the betrayal of public trust in the past six years as the RSD has held community meetings, promised public engagement and then disregarded the wishes of parents and stake-holders again and again.  We will examine the false choices that the school district has offered parents and children and the way school choice has divided schools from their communities and from parental oversight and involvement.  We will condemn the political influence, waste and lack of foresight that has characterized the rebuilding and renovations of schools thus far and demand a fair, equitable and transparent process going forward.  We will expose RSD’s deliberate and systematic neglect of certain schools to justify takeover and closure.  We will stand up to save John McDonogh and all of our schools from autocratic decisions made by unelected, out-of-touch and out-of-town administrators.

Please join with us on Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:30 PM in front of John McDonogh High School to advocate for the right of every New Orleans public school child to real recovery, real reform, real improvement and real choice in their schools.