Education Secretary Margaret Spellings reports on the schoolchildren displaced by Katrina:
In an interview with The Associated Press, Spellings gave the broadest assessment yet of how the hurricane has affected schools at the start of their year. In Louisiana, more than 247,000 public and private school students have been displaced. The storm forced 489 schools to close. At least six parishes have destroyed or damaged buildings, she said. In Mississippi, more than 125,000 students have been forced elsewhere. Some 226 schools in 30 districts are closed. Almost 30 schools have been destroyed.
Spellings declined to estimate how much it will cost states to rebuild school districts or serve displaced students - or how much the federal government will cover. "I shouldn't be talking about the details that I'm in negotiations with the White House and the (Capitol) Hill on,'' Spellings said. "As soon as I can talk about it, I want to talk about it.'' President Bush has told Spellings to develop a plan to provide aid for the states.
Not surprisingly, NCLB requirements are on the minds of those concerned about displaced students:
Last week, as the Houston Independent School District enrolled thousands of young storm survivors, arranged transportation for them and reopened two schools, Spellings met with the National Education Association and other groups to discuss Katrina's aftermath. No conclusions from that meeting were announced. In an interview with National Public Radio, however, Spellings said she was disinclined to waive accountability rules for the Louisianans. "We don't want to write off this school year academically for these kids, and shouldn't, at least not yet," Spellings said.
Her instinct is correct. The school year is just starting. New Orleans children in the care of other states deserve all the attention and encouragement to meet high standards their teachers can lavish. This includes the test preparation that is, for better or worse, the core of today's curricula. But prepping for the TAKS is grueling. It is unfair to make already stressed newcomers worry that bad test scores could harm teachers and schools.
I'm sure the developers of NCLB never imagined that hundreds of thousands of students would suddenly shift from one state to the next - and would do so without housing, funding, or supplies. The NYTimes, however, carries an editorial today urging schools not to give up on NCLB, and lambasting the NEA for requesting a waiver from NCLB for all schools accepting displaced students. Mickey Kaus calls it the "Katrina Ate My Homework" excuse:
In other words, no more accountability for lousy schools in three entire states and in any other district in the entire nation that accepts displaced students. Take some Katrina Kids, get out from under the NCLB! Ineffective teachers in mediocre schools who fear losing their jobs can't say their union is not going to bat for them in Washington.
In related news, the Texas Education Agency has a hotline and a special webpage with guides for educators. Texas is also fast-tracking a temporary certification of teachers in order to cope with the sudden influx of students.Posted by kswygert at September 13, 2005 10:46 AM