Rebuilding Schools, Rebuilding Communities: The Civic Role of Mississippi's Public Schools after Hurricane Katrina
34 Pages Posted: 21 May 2008
Date Written: 2008
When public elementary and secondary schools in the six Mississippi Gulf Coast-area counties opened in August 2006, they enrolled 92% of the number of students they had before Hurricane Katrina made landfall just one year earlier. The one-year return rate in Mississippi's Gulf Coast public schools varied among districts depending on the extent of damage, but was nearly double that in New Orleans. Some lessons from Mississippi school districts-yes, from schools in a state known for having one of the most quantitatively weak public school systems in the country-can tell us what government did exceptionally well in Katrina's aftermath. This chapter tells the story of those Mississippi school districts. I first set the stage by comparing the coastal Mississippi public schools and the New Orleans public schools before the hurricane and then quantifying the hurricane's immediate damage to schools in both regions. Then, I describe the crucial roles Mississippi schools played in the immediate and short-term recovery efforts in their communities as well as schools' initiatives to address students' mental health needs. Finally, I return to a comparative perspective, quantifying ways in which the two regions' schools have changed in the two years since Katrina.
Keywords: chools, Education, Students, Mississippi, Hurricane Katrina, Natural Disaster
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation