April 21, 2006
This weekend I am off to Washington, D.C. to attend a meeting of the Association of American Universities and to testify before a congressional committee on the need for federal money to help universities and K-12 public education in New Orleans recover from Hurricane Katrina.
Specifically, I will ask members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and Workforce to support the establishment of the Education Relief Loan Program. This program would provide repayable loans to assist hurricane-impacted universities with the overwhelming tasks of managing the cash flow issues they face as they try to recover their losses from insurance carriers and FEMA.
I will also petition the committee on behalf of our K-12 education system. While the federal government has given money to support teacher's salaries and purchase books and equipment, FEMA has allocated no money for repairing the infrastructure of our elementary and secondary schools, 70 percent of which were damaged by Katrina. Repairing the physical facilities of our schools is critical as more and more students return and we reform our school system, which was failing our children.
New Orleans and the surrounding region cannot recover without the survival of its colleges and universities. Higher education pumps approximately $3 billion each year into the region’s economy. Tulane’s economic impact on New Orleans before Katrina totaled more than $842 million a year and our economic impact statewide was more than $1.12 billion a year. Prior to Katrina, Tulane was the largest private employer in Orleans Parish; now we are the single largest employer of any type in the city.
New Orleans needs repaired levees and rebuilt homes and businesses in order to survive in the short term. But it is only through the education of our citizens at all levels that we can achieve lasting, positive change and become the city of our dreams.
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