Louisiana educators have been making a contribution in Texas, but they say negative incidents have overshadowed their stories
Evacuee teachers filling a gap
— reported by the Houston Chronicle
Palmer is one of hundreds of educators who have stepped in to fill vacant classroom slots and help the state handle the 46,000 students from hurricane-ravaged areas who enrolled last fall.
She believes their stories have been lost in the ongoing tale of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. Her concerns seemed confirmed by a poll released last week in which three-quarters of Harris County residents surveyed by a Rice University sociologist said the influx of Katrina evacuees has put a “considerable strain” on the community.
Palmer said she thinks the poll results have “a lot to do with the fact that only the sob stories have been told, not the stories of survival and rebuilding.” She wonders how many of those questioned for the poll have actually met and talked to someone like herself who is having a positive influence on her new community.
With many school districts facing a chronic shortage of qualified math teachers, Palmer said she provided stability to geometry students who had been drifting along without a permanent teacher since school started in August.
Some teachers, like Palmer, have been hired under an emergency certification program set up by the state one week after Hurricane Katrina’s Aug. 29 landfall. As of mid-March, 77 teachers had been granted the one-year certificates and another 36 were awaiting the results of their fingerprint check.
Many others have been hired on an hourly basis or as permanent substitutes. Houston ISD hired 192 extra employees, mostly teachers, as hourly workers instead of giving them contracts.
Joel Trevino, staffing director for the Fort Bend Independent School District, was impressed when he began interviewing teachers in September. The 66,000-student district has hired 22 teachers under the emergency certification program, more than any other district in the state.