Life must march on. School districts across the country have opened their doors to many of the nearly 240,000 children in K-12 that have been displaced and uprooted from their homes and neighborhood schools after Hurricane Katrina obliterated or drowned everything they knew along the Gulf of Mexico coastline.
From the governor's office in Texas to the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., people are stepping to the plate: opening their school doors, cutting bureaucratic red tape, accepting waiver requests under No Child Left Behind, and trying to do everything they can to get students to school and keep them in classrooms.
"The important thing here is to stabilize the educational process for these children," says Ray Simon, deputy secretary of education. "They are disrupted."
"Education is going to be a long-term issue. It's going to be something that's not going to be a quick fix. We're in this for the long term. These children will likely, many of them, attend school not only in districts remote from their home district, but in states remote from their home district."
As some communities were expected not to be operational for months, the U.S. Department of Education has allowed districts to apply for waivers under the No Child Left Behind law, including in the key areas of adequate yearly progress and highly qualified teachers, as well as asking the welcoming states to allow teachers in non-operational districts to teach. "The department of education urges any teacher who is able to apply for work in the school system in which they are taking shelter," said Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cecil Picard.
"I think you're going to see unprecedented cooperation among states and districts within states and school within districts to make this the best possible year for these kids," Simon said.