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The New Education Paradigm in New Orleans by Matthew Lynch
On April 3, 2007, I participated in the Gulf Coast Economic Summit held in New Orleans; sponsored by Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Push Coalition. I was invited to serve on a panel of national educational leaders. We were asked to commentate on the ?Racial Academic Achievement Gap,? and since I had written a book on the same topic, I was anxious to lend my expert advice.
The event was held at the Sheraton on Canal Street, which is located in the cities famous French Quarter. When I inquired as to where my panel would be convening, I was told to report to Rhythms 2, which turned out to be a large ballroom on the second floor. The first event of the day was entitled ?The New Education Paradigm in New Orleans.? In New Orleans the public school system is a that which has parents facing a myriad of choices, challenges, and chance. This panel discussed several pertinent issues, including charter schools, and the quality of schools. I was shocked to find out that the schools were woefully over crowded, under staffed and that over 300 students were on waiting lists for school placement. Rev. Jackson made an appearance, thanking everyone for coming out to support the event. As I sat in my seat, I was awestruck by Rev. Jackson?s stature.
During the Panel Discussion Rev. Jackson was standing directly beside me.
Later on this month, Jackson plans to facilitate a march into the 9th ward of New Orleans as a non violent protest of the current state of education. He hopes that before then the local government will make some concessions that will preclude the necessity of organizing the march.
Ray Nagin Survives
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin won re-election successfully weathering a challenge from Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu and allowing him to oversee the continued rebuilding of the Louisiana city decimated by Hurricane Katrina.
With all 442 precincts reporting, Nagin won 59,460 votes (52.3%) to Landrieu's 54,131 votes (47.7%). The two candidates had been neck-and-neck in the returns through the night. Early returns with 22% of precincts reporting showed Nagin leading 51% to 49%, while a later update with 48% of precincts showed Landrieu with the lead with the same margin.
Both Nagin and Landrieu called for the citizens of New Orleans to work together in unity. Nagin, in his victory speech, said, "It's time for us to stop the bickering. It's time for us to stop measuring things in black and white and yellow and Asian. It's time for us to be one New Orleans."
Landrieu struck a similar tone in his concession speech: "One thing is for sure that we as a people have got to come together so we can speak with one voice and one purpose," he said. "Join with me in supporting Mayor Nagin."
Nagin and Landrieu, both Democrats, agreed on most issues confronting New Orleans, including upholding the right of residents to rebuild in all areas of the city, and lobbying for increased recovery aid and upgraded levee protection.
What differentiated the two candidates was leadership style. Nagin, a former cable executive is best known for his maverick, straight-talking, political-outsider style, and his sometimes controversial remarks to the media in the aftermath of Katrina. Landrieu, a member of a prominent political family in Louisiana, emphasized his ability to reach consensus and bring people together during the campaign.
Race also played a factor, with Nagin winning majority black neighborhoods and Landrieu winning majority white neighborhoods. However, Nagin did also get a significant crossover vote from the more heavily populated, predominantly white neighborhoods. In 2002, both mayoral candiates, Nagin and Pennington, were black. Nagin won 100% of predominantly white precincts in that election while his opponent faired better in predominantly black precincts.
Louisiana Secretary of State Al Ater said that turnout was comparable to the April 22 primary, when about 37 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
Nagin's new term begins May 31, one day before the Atlantic hurricane season begins.
(There Are No Words) Katrina's Victims Deserve More
by Tommy Ates
"You can never return."
Sounds like a funeral eulogy, don't it? Those are words many lower 9th Ward and New Orleans residents are being implicitly told by FEMA, Louisiana state, and city authorities, in evacuee meetings in Atlanta, Houston, Birmingham and other cities around the affected areas of the Gulf coast.
For Katrina evacuees, the nightmare has shifted from the hurricane's aftermath to the government's neglect.
Doubly so for hard-working citizens and homeowners who listened to New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco in their calls for residents to return to the area. Listening to intently and believed in President Bush's message on hope and empowerment from New Orleans in the weeks after the storm. Those evacuees, some poor, but mainly middle-class and black, trusted the federal government would live up to its promise of repairing the levees (to Category 5 levels) and getting the infrastructure (lights, gas, and roads) back online. It is almost 4 months since the storm; the tragic stories have been off the news media's radar, and (unlike media's polished assurances), no Hollywood ending.
Just the old story of the politics as usual served Southern-style: money is power, power is money, and without either you have none; and therefore no response when it is matters. For these residents, it is their livelihood, homes, land – their culture, at stake. In terms of shear numbers, the Katrina evacuation from New Orleans was one of the largest (de facto) resettlement events since black Northern migrations in the 1930s and '40s. And while they are desperately attempting to re-plant roots, the federal government has not decided yet the financial (and political cost) to keeping them there.
In the meantime, in the eyes of real estate developers and conservative interests, an abandoned lower 9th Ward and vicinity would be to New Orleans' benefit in terms of financial services (fewer lower-income residents), further relaxation of construction rules and regulations, and increased 'comfort level' of visitors, introducing a "new and improved" New Orleans: a more 'modern' attitude, a heightened "pleasure-land" for young adults and (possible) retirees, and a different demographic: going from 70% black to 70% white.
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New Orleans: Shock and Awe
8/2005 - New Orleans, destroyed by hurricane Katrina, thousands feared dead, and a slow disorganized lackadaisical response from the federal government has fueled looting, frustration and anger. Watching the coverage on CNN I finally had to ask where are the white people? Frustrated at Fox news images of African Americans looting. I don’t know how many times they showed the same images of “looting” food, water and clothing without regard to the fact that people who could not escape the hurricane, people who have no cars, the vast majority of whom are poor need food water and clothing. New Orleans was a city that was two-thirds black. The majority of whom are poor.
The situation in New Orleans is of biblical proportions and the ineptitude and inefficiency in saving people is shocking given the vast resources of the world’s only super power as we are constantly told. The situation is so desperate there are reports that some still trapped in their attic and the roof of their homes are shooting at rescue helicopters to attract attention to their desperate plight. This is true shock and awe.
The situation in Mississippi is as desperate. What the media does not report is that this area of the United States was already among the poorest in the United States. The Census Bureau has recently reported that the poverty rate is up the fourth year in a row. 37 million people are living in poverty, 1.1 million people more than in 2003. People need help and they need it now. Jesse, Sharpton, Farrakhan, and all those who consider themselves leaders of the black community need to mobilize and help our brothers and sisters in what was New Orleans and the gulf coasts of Mississippi and Alabama
Related: Poetry Corner
AMNO Blues Alabama-Mississippi-New Orleans
by Lewis Colyar
Somebody, somebody please lend me a
Please lend me a tear if you have one to
For Alabama, Mississippi, and New Orleans
I don’t know when or if I can repay, I need one
for all I’ve seen
Mothers crying for their babies, Babies crying
for their mothers
People watched all they owned being swept away
with the flood waters
Katrina, Katrina such a lovely name to bring so much
I stood upon the rooftop waving for help with my only
That was my Mother, Father, Sister and Brother
You came and swept them away with raging winds
and furious waters
Katrina, Katrina you left me with AMNO Blues
Alabama, Mississippi, and New Orleans
You didn’t stick around to hear what they called me
on the national news
I thought I was a citizen until you came along
but they said I was a refugee
I guess I knew they always harbored those feelings
to some degree
They put me in a ball stadium and said it was better
than what I had before
I’m on the fifty yard line, at least the outhouse had a
Katrina, Katrina you left me with AMNO Blues
Alabama, Mississippi and New Orleans
9/2005 - Grammy award-winning rapper/producer Kanye West appeared on a live on-air telethon simulcast on NBC, MSNBC, CNBC and PAX for Hurricane Katrina victims. Live on air, West said "George Bush doesn't care about black people," after saying "America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible." He also said "the Red Cross is doing everything they can," and stated that he was going to see what the maximum amount of money he can donate is. West criticized government authorities and stated that "They've given them permission to go down and shoot us."
West first deviated from the script he and comedian Mike Myers were using by commenting on the recent uproar over differently captioned photos for black and white people in the aftermath of the hurricane: "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food."
Though a several-second delay was in place, the comments were let through uncensored on the EST live broadcast as the person in charge "was instructed to listen for a curse word, and didn't realize he had gone off-script," according to an NBC spokeswoman.
NBC has released a statement after the broadcast: "Tonight's telecast was a live television event wrought with emotion. Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion."
The sponsor of the event, the American Red Cross, also issued a statement on the telethon, stating: "During the telecast, a controversial comment was made by one of the celebrities. We would like the American public to know that our support is unwavering, regardless of political circumstances. We are a neutral and impartial organization, and support disaster victims across the country regardless of race, class, color or creed."
9/2005 - The American Food and Drug Administration has recalled operational rations (MREs) donated by Britain to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
The Daily Mirror insinuated that the majority of the 400,000 rations donated by Britain, at a cost of millions of pounds, are set to be destroyed at a plant in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Washington Times reported, on September 23, 2005, that a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that the food was being held at the facility but denied any plans to incinerate the rations donated by Britain.
Nevertheless, the move has infuriated aid workers who hasten to point out that "Under NATO, American soldiers are also entitled to eat such rations, yet the starving of the American South will see them go up in smoke because of FDA red tape madness." One aid worker was quoted as saying that "the world's richest nation couldn't organize a piss-up in a brewery and lets Americans starve while they arrogantly observe petty regulations. Everyone is revolted by the chaotic shambles the US is making of this crisis. Guys from UNICEF are walking around spitting blood."
An FDA spokesman said the rations had not been inspected but were automatically deemed "unfit for human consumption" due to Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or colloquially "mad cow disease") fears. He observed that 70 pallets of vegetarian MREs were inspected and approved on September 13th. Aid workers claim that, today, BSE is much more of a problem in the U.S. than in Britain.
Food donations from Spain and Italy are also being held by the FDA due to similar concern, as well as thousands of gallons of pear juice from Israel. Licensing regulations have also prevented foreign nations from sending doctors and other medical personnel.
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