SCHOOL OPENINGS [as of 9/26/05]
- Public: Some schools may reopen late this year or early next year
- Teachers and other public school employees can pick up their checks at any Western Union office in the country
- Public: Oct. 3 target date for some schools
- Ecole Classique to open Oct. 3. Call (225) 819-2846 to register
- Concordia Lutheran in Marrero to open Oct. 3
- John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge to open today
(Also see Rita Won't Delay Jeff Schools Opening.)
Here's why we're told Orleans Parish cannot open its schools anytime soon:
A few of the 126 schools in New Orleans' public system are expected to reopen during the next two months, but education officials say that most won't be up and running until January. By some estimates, the schools, which serve 60,000 children, won't be fully operational until the fall of 2006.
And the 22-school parochial school system is debating when and how to open its doors, though some of its 20,000 students are expected to be at their desks sooner than those in public schools. Meanwhile, private school teachers, unable to work here, are getting jobs elsewhere.
"If you have kids, you don't want to come back here right now. You can't, really," Gartman said. The toxic sludge left behind in many areas, he said, was another disincentive for parents contemplating a return.
Presumably conditions are significantly better in Jefferson Parish.
Well, not really. According to parish president Aaron Broussard:
We are at a catastrophic, disastrous impasse. There are a tremendous amount of trees down, gas leaks, low water pressure, and downed electrical lines which could start a fire that we have no way of putting out. There are no traffic controls. Many places are still flooded and this standing water will become toxic.
Jefferson Parish emergency managers will need this time to at least clear major East/West thoroughfares so that you can enter Jefferson Parish. However, I strongly suggest that you just come here to gather more belongings and leave, as it will still be a dangerous place. I cannot stress strongly enough that there will be no stores to purchase food or supplies so please do so prior to coming back to Jefferson Parish.
Try to stay with friends and relatives out of the hurricane affected area during the weeks to come. We cannot sustain any viable quality of life in Jefferson Parish at this time or for some time to come.
That was a statement released on August 29, but as of last week things do not appear to have gotten substantially safer in Jefferson Parish.
Here is some other relevant data:
According to Census 2000 in Jefferson Parish the racial makeup was
69.82% White, 22.86% Black or African American, 0.45% Native American, 3.09% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 2.03% from other races, and 1.72% from two or more races. 7.12% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
According to Census 2000 in Orleans Parish the racial makeup was
67.25% African American, 28.05% White, 0.20% Native American, 2.26% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 1.28% from two or more races. 3.06% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are already reports of non-Orleanians coming finding employment in New Orleans.* What Orleanians with families, who need work, will return to their homes to look for it if there are no schools for their children?
*Warning: The TP intermixes some anti-immigrant overtones with the substance of the linked article. Here's the main point, if you don't want to read the rest:
It will be impossible to get every New Orleanian to move back to the city. Some are making better lives for themselves elsewhere and can hardly be faulted for staying where they are.
But there are plenty of residents who are longing to get home and have yet to make lives for themselves in other cities. These are the people who should be at the top of the list of prospective workers in the rebuilding effort.
Of course, you can hardly entice them back if you're only willing to pay poverty level wages.
But in the wake of the disaster, President Bush suspended the Davis-Bacon Act that required employers to pay locally prevailing wages to construction workers on federally financed projects. The declaration applies to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.
At the same time, many contracts being given to corporations are not subjected to competitive bidding.
In essence, there's no ceiling preventing sky-high profits for these corporations and not much of a floor to ensure that wages to workers are not abysmally low.
There is an intelligent way to rebuild our city.
This, however, isn't it.