Press Release

AFT President Weingarten on Katrina’s 10th Anniversary

For Release: 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Contact:

Anna Oman
301-979-5899
aoman@aft.org

“Ten years on, the city still struggles to support and educate its most vulnerable students. The system has failed countless youth, who are cut off from education and the workforce, and it has created an atmosphere of hypercompetition for limited spots in a few highly rated schools. Rather than miraculous, the gains are similar to those in districts that adopt cost-effective, community-oriented changes like offering universal, high-quality prekindergarten or lowering class sizes.”

WASHINGTON—Statement of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall:

“In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, an unprecedented experiment in public education was undertaken: New Orleans’ schools were handed over to private charter school operators. The city dissolved its contract with its teachers and fired every school employee. Education ‘reformers’ were given billions in federal funds and private donations with broad latitude to alter the education landscape and limited accountability.

“Some have spent the past months touting the New Orleans “miracle,” suggesting it could be a model for other districts. Their numbers suggest improvement. But when we look beyond the numbers to the big picture, the ‘miracle’ fades and the reality comes into focus. Ten years on, the city still struggles to support and educate its most vulnerable students. The system has failed countless youth, who are cut off from education and the workforce, and it has created an atmosphere of hypercompetition for limited spots in a few highly rated schools. Rather than miraculous, the gains are similar to those in districts that adopt cost-effective, community-oriented changes like offering universal, high-quality prekindergarten or lowering class sizes.

“Let’s embrace high-quality, free pre-K for all the city’s children. Let’s invest in neighborhood schools that connect communities and provide needed services to students, including healthcare and social and emotional supports. And let’s invest in high-quality, employer-linked career and technical education. We owe it to the city’s communities and families, which have worked so hard to rebuild, to help reclaim the promise of public education in New Orleans.”
 

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.