Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Flooding that closed schools in Louisiana putting rural disadvantaged students at greater risk

School leaders in Louisiana fear that flooding—22 districts in the southern part of the state were forced to close last week—will hurt disadvantaged students who are already struggling to stay on pace, Ashley Cusick reports for The Washington Post. While some schools plan to open in the next few weeks, about 4,000 faculty and staff have been displaced, and there is concern about sending buses to students in remote areas and the condition of school buildings. President Obama was in Louisiana today, although many say his visit is too little too late. (Post photo by Shawn Fink: Textbooks drying in the Baker High School library)

"At stake is not only whether schools will be able to provide students with stability and routine at a time of great upheaval, but also whether students—many of whom are disadvantaged—will lose out on more precious learning time," Cusick writes. "District officials are planning to combine schools until all buildings are functional, in some cases running two schools out of one building. The combination of missing class time, upending school routines and scrambling to find enough teachers could come at an academic cost to students who already perform below the state average on state math and reading tests and who are overwhelmingly at risk, according to state data. Students will be bused—no matter where in the district they are staying—to school sites in their home neighborhoods."

"It is too early to estimate the cost of the damage, but Herman Brister, superintendent of the City of Baker School District, expects the losses at the district’s only high school—which serves about 550 students, the vast majority of whom are African American and poor—to be in the millions of dollars," Cusick writes. James Beverly, a custodian at Baker who estimated that each room in the school had at least two feet of water, told Cusick, “I opened the door, and it was like a river.”

Victor Mock, a bus driver for Baker, used his 71-passenger bus to rescue an estimated 800 people, then to transport school supplies and books between the flooded high school and its new location, Cusick writes. Mock, who was expected to be back driving the students to school today, told Cusick, “The water in some areas was up on the third step of the bus. It was a time when you have to let your heart overrule your mind.” (Read more)

No comments: