Tag Archives: Hurricane Katrina

McQueary’s disaster capitalism fantasy

Katrina“Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth.” — Kristen McQueary

“They’re trying to wash us away.”  — Randy Newman, Louisiana 1927

The Tribune is on a roll. Weeks after calling for a Mussolini-type dictator to run the school system, editorial board member McQueary now prays for a Katrina-like disaster, suggesting a catastrophe of that magnitude could change Chicago for the better without borrowing money or raising her taxes.

I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops. That’s what it took to hit the reset button in New Orleans. Chaos. Tragedy. Heartbreak.

Yes, I know McQueary is making a stab at metaphor (or is she?) and probably doesn’t really want water damage in her condo. But her disgusting worse-the-better message of New Orleans envy, without a thought for the thousands of people, mostly African-American families,who died or were driven out of the city when the levees broke, comes through loud and clear.

The Tribune’s racist insensitivity is only an echo of Obama’s Ed Sec. Arne Duncan who anticipated McQueary’s piece back in 2010 when he told interviewer Roland Martin,

I spent a lot of time in New Orleans, and this is a tough thing to say, but let me be really honest. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.

An embarrassed Obama forced Duncan to apologize for his racist remarks and he did. I’m sure McQueary will have to walk it back as well. But we know what both were really thinking. Duncan drooled over Katrina because it led to the mass firing of city teachers and the destruction of their union. That’s McQueary’s dream as well. It also led to disaster-capitalism specialist Paul Vallas and his replacement of public schools and public decision-making with charter schools run by corporate boards.

Throw in a little bit of the late Univ. of Chicago free-market economist Milton Friedman who said of Katrina: “This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system”.

And add Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s call to “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before” and you’ve got the ideology behind disaster capitalism.

This is nothing new for McQueary who has been the Trib’s point person when it comes to launching attacks on the teachers union and especially on CTU Pres. Karen Lewis.

In fact, Chicago has already had it’s version of Katrina and doesn’t need any more disasters to facilitate “reform”. Like New Orleans, Chicago’s was man-made and has lasted for decades. It’s the product of years of systemic racial segregation in schooling and housing, the destruction of the city’s manufacturing base, and concentrated poverty that has left many communities reeling from gun violence.

Surpassing even post-Katrina New Orleans, Chicago has suffered the mass exodus of more than a quarter-million African-Americans in the past decade.

McQueary wants more of the same. Enough!

via Mike Klonsky’s SmallTalk Blog


U.S. Supreme Court denies teachers’ Katrina layoffs suit

supreme court

It’s the end of the road for the thousands of New Orleans public school employees who said they were wronged when they lost their jobs after Hurricane Katrina. They lost in Louisiana in October, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied their appeal Monday (May 18), according to court documents.

The Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision against the plaintiffs was doubly negative — most of the court’s justices threw the case out, and said they would have ruled against the plaintiffs anyway — and doubly surprising, because the teachers had won at trial in theappeals court. The trial judge awarded damages that could have totaled $1.5 billion.

About 7,500 teachers and staff were part of the suit. It charged that the Orleans Parish School Board did not follow proper procedures when it laid off almost its entire workforce after the 2005 storm. Moreover, plaintiffs said, the state Recovery School District, which took over most of the schools, should have given them priority in hiring.

Despite Monday’s ruling, the plaintiffs aren’t giving up. Willie Zanders, their attorney, said he will turn to the executive branch and Congress to investigate the possible misuse of $500 million in post-Katrina grants to the schools. At the time, Louisiana Education Superintendent Cecil Picard based his request on the need to pay school staff, Zanders said. But trial Judge Ethel Simms Julien of Orleans Parish Civil District Court said in her decision that the state “diverted these funds to the RSD.”

In the best-case scenario, Zanders said, Congress would require Louisiana to repay the money to the federal government then pass legislation directing the money to the laid-off school employees.

“You don’t quit after 10 years. If you believe in something, you fight. Justice has no time deadline — or we’d still be in slavery,” Zanders said.

Justice has no time deadline — or we’d still be in slavery.” – Plaintffs’ attorney Willie Zanders.

Representatives of the Orleans Parish School Board and Louisiana Education Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears cases when they concern the federal Constitution. The plaintiffs argued that their due process rights had been violated under the 14th Amendment. They also said the case brought up “the unsettled important question of state-mandated priority consideration for employment” discussed in two 1972 decisions, according to their reply brief to the high court.

>>> Nola.com


“A Perfect Storm: The Takeover of New Orleans Public Schools”.


The resisters in New Orleans have created a five-minute video about what they call the “corporate takeover of public education in New Orleans through charter schools.”

This is an instance of what Naomi Klein describes as an application of the Shock Doctrine, or “disaster capitalism.” Charter schools in many districts throughout the United States have been used to advance fraud in many ways.

When the New Orleans school system was battered by Hurricane Katrina, that was an opportune moment for many politicians at the state and federal levels to take control of the vulnerable school district, eliminate most public schools, fire all the teachers, eliminate the unions, and install charter schools and Teach for America. There might have been a small benefit but that is to a lesser degree.

This video is the beginning of a series created by residents of New Orleans who want a democratically controlled school system rather than a free market in education using charter schools.

new-orleans-mapNew Orleans school system was battered by Hurricane Katrina. Students, teachers, and education staff in New Orleans, Alabama, and Mississippi were decimated by the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Hurricane Katrina was the eleventh named storm and fifth hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Overall, at least 1,833 people died in the hurricane and subsequent floods, making it the deadliest United States hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. Total property damage was estimated at $108 billion (2005 USD)


Hurricane Katrina at peak strength
on August 28, 2005. – Category 5 major hurricane