Magazine article Techniques

A Caring Community

Magazine article Techniques

A Caring Community

Article excerpt

When Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast region, she destroyed homes, businesses and lives. Not only did the storm leave many people homeless, it also left many children without the schools they had attended. As the full scope of the situation became clear, school leaders from across the country immediately began taking steps to see that these children would have a place to go to continue their education.

On September 7, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings issued a letter to the chief state school officials noting the federal efforts to "assess and respond flexibly to the needs of the most directly affected states, especially Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as Texas and other states that have received large numbers of displaced students."

Spellings cites the work of local schools that were working to enroll students as soon as possible so that their lives could be returned to normalcy in some part. She also notes the response of colleges and universities that offered free or reduced tuition to displaced students.

"I am proud of America's educators' efforts," says Spellings.

Spellings' letter also lists examples of major areas in which flexibility and resources are available for school districts that have been affected by the disaster, including waivers and modifications, highly qualified teacher requirements, reallocation of funds, and supplemental appropriations.

She notes, however, that, "Given the differences in the nature and extent of the damage and circumstances among the states, we believe an individualized, case-by-case approach is the most effective means for meeting the needs at this time."

The U.S. Department of Education has launched a "Hurricane Help for Schools" Web site at news/hurricane/index.html. The site will serve as a nationwide clearinghouse to address the needs of affected schools in coordination with the National Response Plan already activated by the Department of Homeland Security. …

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