Monday, September 19, 2005

Separate and Unequal

Leave it to a Republican senator to come up with the heartless idea of segregating Katrina's children from other kids in school.

That's right, boys and girls, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, came up with the brilliant idea of placing hapless children, already traumatized by Katrina, in their very own little schools with their very own identity tags.

So let see, poor displaced children should be victimized twice over because....?

Oh yea, their personal safety of course. First by having them attend second-rate, makeshift schools, then by forcing the mark of the storm on their lunchboxes.

It all began with a fight. At Jones High School in Houston, a regular student threw a soda can at newly enrolled teens; and after all was said done, five kids were arrested.

Lest you mistakenly think this altercation is a common happenstance, "with over 40,00 displaced was the exception, not the rule," but just the pretext the gentle lady from Texas needed in the latest assault on the powerless by Republicans.

Federal law now prohibits schools from "educating homeless students separately from the general population or stigmatizing them with special identification cards or wristbands."

But Hutchison introduced a bill, supported by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that would grant a waiver to Texas. Parents could no longer object to "children's placement in particular schools." And more inhumanely, the bill would also allow schools to issue "identification cards or other identifying insignia" for Katrina's heirs.

Ain’t life swell...?

Why it's only because their "top priority is keeping the kids from Louisiana in an environment that is safe, secure and familiar," so said Hutchison's fork tongued spokesperson. 'This is only a temporary waiver for the remainder of the school year."

Sure, and let's make them feel as unwelcome as possible so by next fall they'll be back in New Orleans.

Let's stop paying lip service to the children and start backing our words with action equal to our professed conviction. Why if Hutchison and Cornyn have their way, it's off to separate and unequal schools they go, same as brown and black kids did in Texas as recently as the 1980s, when the Justice Department finally had to step in.

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Apparently Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is pushing hard for this. With well over 300,000 students displaced I hope Spellings is better qualified for her job than what we have seen from other members of Bush's Cabinet.
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