Thursday, June 22, 2006

Katrina and New Orleans

"Thousands of New Orleans Public Housing Units to be Destroyed as 200,000+ Low-Income Residents Remain Displaced" on democracy now

"We take a look at the situation with public housing in New Orleans. Last week, Federal housing officials announced that more than 5,000 public housing units for the poor were to be demolished even though tens of thousands of low-income residents remain displaced. On Saturday, public housing residents and advocates protested the decision by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and vowed to use any means necessary to stop the bulldozing of their apartments. The HUD decision means that at least 3,000 families who lived in the units before the storm will have to find someplace else to go. If the federal government's plan goes forward, New Orleans will have lost 85 percent of its public housing over the past decade.

Last week, the Deputy Chief of Staff of HUD, Scott Keller, attended a meeting of the New Orleans City Council. After the meeting Free Speech Radio News correspondent Christian Roseland asked him if now was the right time to be tearing down public housing since there are still over 200,000 people displaced from the hurricane. This was Scott Keller's response. (read entire article)

AND "All New Orleans Public School Teachers Fired, Millions in Federal Aid Channeled to Private Charter Schools" on democracy now

"We go now to New Orleans to look at the ongoing efforts to rebuild the city in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. After the storm hit, the city's infrastructure was virtually wiped out. Public housing units, hospitals, schools and universities were closed down because of physical damage. But many of these public institutions have not been re-opened. And some contend that this is part of an effort to privatize New Orleans.
We first look at the New Orleans public school system. Immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit, the Louisiana state legislature voted to take over most of the city's public schools and effectively fire the 7,500 teachers and employees who work in them. The city schools are now part of the state-run recovery school district and control of many of schools is being given to private charter organizations. Just last week, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced $24 million dollars in federal aid to Louisiana for development of private charter schools which doubles the amount the state has already received. This federal grant was made only to charter schools - not traditional public schools. Many parents and teachers have expressed concern the move towards private charter schools is being done with little public discussion about curriculum, the efficacy of the schools, and working conditions for teachers." (read entire article)