How not to run a state

I think I\'m getting an interesting perspective on post-Katrina relief compared to what my colleagues are reporting from New Orleans. While they are seeing things on the ground, I\'m looking at things from the perspective of those who were evacuated and those who would seek to help them--from the outside looking in, if you will.\r\n\r\nToday I met with a Dallas-based attorney who has handled more than her share of legal issues for Katrina & Rita evacuees here in the Dallas area. Some of her observations suggested to me a staggering degree of incompetence on the part of LA state officials--not just during or after Katrina, but in the years and decades before.\r\n\r\nImmediately after Katrina, the most elementary problem many aid workers encountered when making first contact with the evacuees is that they did not have identification. Not to say they just didn\'t bring it with them when they evacuated--they had never had ID in Louisiana. \"You had a job, right?\" \"Sure.\" \"Then how did you cash your check?\" \"Oh, they knew me down at the bank.\" Needless to say, this complicated their problems even more when applying for any kind of government aid. A broad swath of these evacuees had been living only partially \"in the system.\"\r\n\r\nA similar trend appeared in the school systems. Many students had never had to show vaccination records when enrolled in school in LA, and so their parents had no idea if their kids had been vaccinated. \"They\'re probably OK,\" school officials would say. But when these students were evacuated and placed in schools in other states, this explanation was completely insufficient.\r\n\r\nThe schools hosting these evacuee children quickly found that in many cases, they were not performing at their claimed grade level, and sometimes 2 or even 3 years behind. Their parents naturally protested vigorously when told that their kid might have to be placed in a lower grade than what they studed as in LA.\r\n\r\nThis Dallas attorney told me of a very interesting tidbit not generally known. One jurisdiction (which I won\'t name) that hosted these evacuee children did an excellent job of processing these children before placing them in a new school. Upon arrival of the children, this school district adminstered vaccinations to all of the kids and subjected them to two days of standardized testing to see where they ranked compated to the other students in the district. The evacuees were then placed in the appropriate grade. Most of the time, not even the teachers knew that these students had been brought down a grade, and those that did know had been told to keep it quiet. The students\' parents were told \"unless your kid tells, no one will find out.\" So, this district was able to place these kids in an appropriate grade and avoid the embarrassment that might otherwise be involved in downgrading a student in the tender years of his or her life. Unfortunately, other jurisdictions did not have this degree of foresight and organization, and so the children had an even more difficult time adjusting to their new classes.\r\n\r\nThat\'s all for now, I\'ve got a lot more...\r\n\r\noriginally posted:



“How not to run a state,” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed August 17, 2022,