Friday, September 30, 2005



We know for a fact, based upon the proactive, creative and energetic approach to assisting the victims of Katrina, that Houston is a city comprised of compassionate and generous people. Houstonians did more than murmur a few words of sympathy or offer to say a few extra prayers for the sufferers. Much of Texas did the same thing. They opened their hearts, check books and gave the gift of time to actively and positively do something useful and meaningful for the evacuees.

The key to the success in addressing the needs of over 200,000 sufferers lies in the sustained force of action. Positive and effective action requires that goals are stated and achieved by planning, commitments of the necessary amount of funds, resources along with the crucial ingredients of honesty, uncompromised leadership and an ethical backbone of those charged with the task at hand. Partisan politics are normally set aside when extraordinary disasters impact so many people. The overall goal is and should be focused on helping the victims of the disaster.

In times such as catastrophe, whether natural or man made, most if not all local, state and federal politicians will make speeches that promise to do everything within their means to help those impacted by the disaster. Some politicians honestly care and make good on their promises. Unfortunately, there are not too many, but there are a few. Some do not care at all, if there is nothing for them to gain politically or personally. Other politicians are extremely clever with words and are manipulative. This type will put on a big show and make a lot of noise about caring and action but do the bare minimum to squeak by with a little face time on TV, or do nothing at all.

Then there are the politicians who are more devious and calloused in that they give a tightly scripted appearance of caring for the victims by saying all of the right things, and perform the necessary acts, like show up at a shelter to hand out much needed goods for awhile. The unfortunate fact of the matter is, this type of politician does not care at all. Rather, they are obeying an entity other than their constituents. The passive aggressive model of a politician is the most dangerous to the victims of disaster, as well as to the constituents whom they supposedly represent.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison falls in this last category of politicians. She will say what people want to hear, as long as it is falls within her extremely conservative Republican Party ideology, of course. She will claim to be a compassionate conservative. The Senator will smile a lot and/or look deeply concerned, whichever is required. Afterwards, the Senator, as if acting on orders from powers to be, not her constituents, will return to Washington to pull the plug on measures taken to guarantee a modicum of dignity and well being for those struck by the disaster.

Who is the Senator beholden to? Who is pulling the strings?

Specifically, over 40,000 students from Louisiana have been enrolled in schools in Texas, almost all of them from New Orleans. Like other states, Texas has integrated the evacuees into their existing student populations.

Federal law prohibits local school districts from educating homeless children separately from the general population. Districts are also not allowed to label homeless children by identifying them with special identification cards or wristbands. One can well imagine the demoralizing and demeaning impact on children who, though no fault of their own, are unintended victims of a natural disaster.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, along with another Republican, John Cornyn is now actively attempting to waive these federal rules. They want to stigmatize the Katrina’s victim’s children by separating them from the rest of the students. Senators Hutchison and Cornyn maintain that separate schools should be opened for them, or, if not possible, the uprooted children would have to wear wristbands or carry ID cards.

Kay Bailey Hutchison’s spokesman insists that the goal of the reversal of the federal mandate is to “keep the children of Louisiana safe.” The “safety” issue arises from a fistfight that took place in one of Houston’s high schools when a local student threw a can of Sprite at the new students.

This incident is the exception, not the rule. Two children from New Orleans got into a fight started by a Houston student, and now an excuse has been fabricated to punish all of the children, including our own from Texas.

Why would Texan children be punished? Because they would be denied the opportunity to participate in the humanitarian act of sharing their lives and classrooms with Katrina’s victims.

The Republicans in Texas and in the U.S. Congresses are obviously bottom line driven, especially when it comes to their personal financial opportunities. One has to wonder, although a tad cynically, what these Republican officials have to gain, in their pocket books, by segregating and consequently punishing displaced children.

The world has viewed the United States federal government’s pathetic and humiliating performance in the aftermath of both Katrina and Rita. It is likely, too,that our Bush run government’s incompetence was not lost on global terrorists. But that is another issue.

Many if not most Texans expressed a strong desire to do something active and constructive to offset the government’s ineptitude by looking after Katrina’s victims’ children.

When Barbara Bush announced to the world that the arrival of Katrina’s victims in our state was “scary” and because they were underprivileged, living in the Astrodome wasn’t such a bad thing, the message was sent to the obedient Bush loyalists to do whatever it took to get rid of these “scary” people. Her son, the President, could not do this, for he is obviously now, as economist and journalist Paul Krugman puts it, damaged goods. It was up to Mother Bush to step up and send the sheep scrambling.

But why? What is in it for the Bush loyalists? Money? Surely the Bush’s and their loyalists have more than enough to go around.

Most likely Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn cringe at sharing the State’s property taxes that fund the public schools for even more minorities. The federal government has promised to reimburse the state for the cost of housing and educating Katrina’s victims but everyone knows that FEMA is stretched financially if not completely broke at this point. Despite their words and promises, it is probably a given that the Bush Administration and their blind loyalists Senators Hutchison and Cornyn, will not reimburse hosting states for the costs of housing, food and education because the funds have been squandered to loyalist contractors or redirected to Iraq. Chances are states won’t receive a dime in reimbursement from the federal government under the Bush Administration.

Maybe the cost of education of the segregated children could be passed on to the state of Louisiana at some point.

What about demographics? What would concern Senators Hutchison and Cornyn in this regard?

Would the influx of so many “minorities” compromise the early redistricting of our State, i.e. there will be more Democrats in the state now if the evacuees decide to stay in Texas? Separate the children so they and their parents will want to return to a normal school in New Orleans?

No Child Left Behind?

If separated, would the students from Louisiana get waivers from the requirements of the bill? Do Republicans fear that the evacuees would bring down the state’s already disappointing and low test scores? If separated, the students from Louisiana would not be required to perform at the same levels as Texans students? Would they be exempt from standardized testing, thus ensuring a lower quality education?

Funding? As it is, the rich and mostly fat white boys and girls in Austin don’t want to pay for the schooling of Texan minorities, much less those from another state. They would rather build prisons because prisons hire people and can produce a profit if outsourced. A loyalist contractor would be charged with building and managing the prison. And of course, there are the killing chambers within the prisons.

One should smell a rat. Barbara Bush sent her orders to the Senators Hutchison and Cornyn and they fully intend to obey her.

Are these the people we want to represent us?

I should think not.

Libby Shaw


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