Another Catholic school opens in NO, public schools remain non-functioning. Possibly some good news for the latter, though:
The public schools are another story. The public system in New Orleans has long been among the most abysmal in the nation, plagued by bad management, low test scores and corruption. The FBI and other agencies set up an investigative office in the school system's headquarters last year.
Hurricane Katrina deepened the disarray. The collapse of the public system, though, has a silver lining: It is offering reformers an unusual opportunity to reshape the city's schools.
In recent weeks, the school board has agreed to turn 20 or so public schools into charter schools. Under the plan, the schools would remain in the public system but be largely independent from the board and able to pursue their own educational visions.
On Thursday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said she would ask the Legislature, in its special session beginning tonight, to authorize a state takeover of most of the city schools, turning many of them into charter schools and leaving the city board with little authority.
Blanco hailed "the historic opportunity that we have now to start anew."
Two Roman Catholic elementary schools have served Pascagoula for nearly 100 years -- one opened to teach the children and grandchildren of freed slaves, the other across town educating mostly white children.
But Hurricane Katrina's winds changed the incidental segregation when St. Peter the Apostle, built in 1907 as an African-American mission, was destroyed. Now blown together, 310 elementary students are integrated at Resurrection Catholic School's campus.
''If there is somebody who is now upset because there are more black children, we don't want them," said Laura Murray, a mother at Resurrection, as she helped prepare the water-damaged building for classes. ''I don't think there is anybody like that. This community doesn't believe like that."
Given St. Peter's dire situation, school officials made the quick decision to get the students back on a regular schedule as soon as possible. All would attend Resurrection.
''It's a triumph for the biracial South," said Charles Reagan Wilson, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
Many parents and teachers want the integrated school to remain, but Sister Bernadette McNamara, principal at St. Peter, worries about her students retaining their culture and identity. She remains at St. Peter, where all that's left usable are three classrooms, where the school's youngest children arrive wearing neat plaid uniforms.
''It's always the black children who lose their school," she said. ''I miss my school. I miss my children."