Tuesday, March 28, 2006

New Orleans to sell flooded buses on ebay

Nation: Check out the slight of hand by the AP reporter.. RUKMINI CALLIMACHI!

Starved for cash, the New Orleans school district is taking a long shot and hoping to sell its flooded, unsalvageable school buses on eBay. Some submerged to their roofs in the black flood waters, the yellow school buses were widely photographed in the days after Hurricane Katrina and have become an icon of the city's devastated school system. School officials acknowledge the sale of the buses on the Internet auction site may puzzle some people used to more traditional school fundraisers like bake sales. "There's no shame in it. Not one bit," said school board president Phyllis Landrieu. "This is a new mechanism for selling things. I think it's very upbeat what we're doing." Only 23 of 117 Orleans Parish public schools have reopened. They face a $111 million shortfall - about a quarter of the district's $430 million annual operating budget. The district also has $264 million in outstanding debt, carried over from before Hurricane Katrina.
Silly me, I thought it was an icon because it proved that Nagin and Blanco could have used them to get people out of the city as the plan said to do in case of a hurricane coming at the city. Speaking of the New Orleans school system.
AP) Young Hurricane Katrina refugees living in Texas scored considerably worse on a statewide standardized exam than Texas children, and thousands of them could be held back. Teachers and state officials blame the low scores on New Orleans' poor school system, the trauma of being abruptly uprooted from their homes, and the possibility that some of them were put in the wrong grade after arriving in Texas with no records. The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, a test of reading and math ability, was given in February to third- and fifth-graders, who must pass in order to move up to the next grade. About 38,000 Katrina evacuees are enrolled in Texas schools. Only 58 percent of evacuees in third grade passed the reading portion, compared with 89 percent of all students. In fifth grade, 46 percent of evacuees passed the reading portion, versus 80 percent among all students. "We've got kids who are coming into our secondary system and cannot read," Houston school board member Larry Marshall said. "Now that is a tragedy." Between the two grades, about 2,000 refugees failed. Students who failed will have two more opportunities to pass the test this spring, but some worry the learning gap is too wide to close. "Unfortunately a lot of the children came to us two and three years behind. It's going to be a struggle for a lot of them to catch up," said Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Graves Ratcliffe. At New Orleans West, a Houston charter school that opened exclusively for evacuees, the scores were even lower. Twenty-one percent of fifth-graders and 30 percent of third-graders passed. About 10 percent of students in both grades are illiterate, Principal Gary Robichaux said. Robichaux, who hopes around 50 percent of his students will pass by the second try, mostly blamed the low scores on the disparity between New Orleans education standards and those in Texas. "A lot of (New Orleans) schools were chaotic," said Robichaux, who was at a New Orleans preparatory school before Katrina. "The quality of teaching just wasn't there."

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