Monday, August 31, 2015

NEW ORLEANS - Recovery Continuum

"Why New Orleans recovery is a continuation, not a celebration" PBS NewsHour 8/26/2015


SUMMARY:  Ten years since Hurricane Katrina brought tragedy to the city of New Orleans, the story of its recovery can read like a tale of two cities.  Marc Morial, Urban League CEO and former mayor, joins Gwen Ifill to take stock of the school system, the need for affordable housing and the enormous task of rebuilding and recovering.

GWEN IFILL (NewsHour):  The future of patient care is only one of the concerns casting a shadow over the Crescent City 10 years later.

A new report out today has a sobering assessment of other problems plaguing its majority African-American community.  Among its findings, in 2005, 44 percent of black children in New Orleans were living in poverty.  That number has gone up to 51 percent.  And the earnings gap between black and white families has increased by 18 percent.  African-American households bring in roughly $25,000 a year, white households $60,000.

The National Urban League study on these and other disparities was released today in New Orleans.

I sat down with CEO Marc Morial to talk about it when I was in the city earlier this week.

Marc Morial, thank you for joining us.

MARC MORIAL, President, National Urban League:  Thanks, Gwen.

GWEN IFILL:  You are the son of a mayor, former state senator, former mayor of New Orleans. And now, as head of the Urban League, you have come out with a report in which you have taken stock of what’s happened in the 10 years since Katrina.  It reads like a tale of two cities.

MARC MORIAL:  It is a tale of two cities.

New Orleans has long been, like many American cities, a tale of two cities.  And I think it’s clear, as you take this snapshot 10 years later, after this tragedy of Katrina, that it’s still a tale of two cities, yes, with great physical rebuilding, yes, a city that survived a tremendous challenge.  But that’s why I think we have to look at this as a commemoration and a continuation, and not a celebration.

GWEN IFILL:  There’s been so much conversation over the years about bouncing back.  You talked about resilience, about the ability of New Orleanians to recreate what had been washed away.

But let’s talk about the issues one by one.  Education, what does your report find?

MARC MORIAL:  So our report finds certainly that you have got a higher high school graduation rate.  But our report also finds that, when it comes to children, there are more children in poverty today than there were before Katrina, and that when it comes to education, while you see signs of progress, there are new schools, there’s improvements in schools, the truth is, is that it’s a school district with fewer students.

It’s true that these reforms have come at a tremendous cost to the city, and that cost was the layoff of some 7,000 mostly African-American unionized teachers almost 10 years ago.  And that’s left, if you will, a scar and pain on the effort to reform the schools.  Now, it’s all about what’s doing best for kids.  But I think it’s important for people to be measured.  At this point, it’s like halftime.

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