School Climate & Safety

Katrina’s Castaways

By Debra Viadero — January 10, 2006 1 min read

Hurricane Katrina, the disastrous storm that struck the Gulf Coast in late August, displaced an estimated 1 million people. Historians are already calling the resulting exodus of families from hard-hit coastal communities in Louisiana and Mississippi the greatest mass migration in the United States since the Civil War.

The diaspora extended north to Alaska and east to the Atlantic coast. Families moved because they needed shelter and jobs, of course, but a desire to get their children’s schooling back on track was also a motivating force.

“I didn’t really want my children to miss a month of school,” one mother from the New Orleans area told Education Week. “The driving force through this whole thing has been to try to keep some normalcy in their lives.”

Katrina’s Castaways
Introduction
A Special Bond
Venturing Back Home
Miles Apart

What follows is a look at the experiences of six students and their families who were part of that exodus. Eighth grader Holly Sweeney and her family are from Waveland, Miss. The Midura children—Redding, Justis, and Sophie—come from New Orleans. So, too, do Dalyn Jones and Anthea Fields, both of them high school freshmen.

They came from a private school, a charter school, a regular public school, and a magnet school. But they all ended up in public schools within an hour’s drive of the nation’s capital.

Schondra Sweeney, left, examines paintings from her home studio in Waveland, Miss., with daughter Holly, center, at their Arlington, Va., apartment. Sweeney's older daughter, Daniella, right, has continued to live in their home state since Hurricane Katrina seperated the family.

In districts, such as the Houston school system, that have seen a heavy influx of Gulf Coast families, the presence of so many displaced students has sometimes sparked tensions. The students profiled here experienced smoother transitions, partly because they came in smaller numbers. Virginia’s 18,500-student Arlington County school district, for instance, easily absorbed the 40 Katrina survivors who showed up on its doorstep.

The question now is how many of these migrating students have moved for good. Will they return home at the next break, wait until the school year ends, or never go back? All that’s certain as 2006 begins is the uncertainty.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools

Read Next

School Climate & Safety When Toxic Positivity Seeps Into Schools, Here's What Educators Can Do
Papering over legitimate, negative feelings with phrases like "look on the bright side" can be harmful for teachers and students.
6 min read
Image shows the Mr. Yuck emoji with his tongue out in response to bubbles of positive sayings all around him.
Gina Tomko/Education Week + Ingram Publishing/Getty
School Climate & Safety Opinion Teaching's 'New Normal'? There's Nothing Normal About the Constant Threat of Death
As the bizarre becomes ordinary, don't forget what's at stake for America's teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Justin Minkel.
4 min read
14Minkel IMG
Gremlin/E+
School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor Invisibility to Inclusivity for LGBTQ Students
To the Editor:
I read with interest “The Essential Traits of a Positive School Climate” (Special Report: “Getting School Climate Right: A Guide for Principals,” Oct. 14, 2020). The EdWeek Research Center survey of principals and teachers provides interesting insight as to why there are still school climate issues for LGBTQ students.
1 min read
School Climate & Safety As Election 2020 Grinds On, Young Voters Stay Hooked
In states like Georgia, the push to empower the youth vote comes to fruition at a time when “every vote counts” is more than just a slogan.
6 min read
Young people celebrate the presidential election results in Atlanta. Early data on the 2020 turnout show a spike in youth voting, with Georgia, which faces a pair of senatorial runoffs, an epicenter of that trend.
Young people celebrate the presidential election results in Atlanta. Early data on the 2020 turnout show a spike in youth voting, with Georgia, which faces a pair of senatorial runoffs, an epicenter of that trend.
Brynn Anderson/AP