Monday, August 24, 2015

Who did we rebuild this city for?

There's a lot of crap from the national outlets this week about the Katrinaversary but this FiveThirtyEight article really nails something that keeps getting.. if not missed.. sorely deemphasized even in the local telling of this story.  And that is, our oft-celebrated "bran gain" of young (white)  'treps from all over the country isn't really a gain so much as it is a replacement.
More than 175,000 black residents left New Orleans in the year after the storm; more than 75,000 never came back.2 Meanwhile, the non-Hispanic white population has nearly returned to its pre-storm total, and the Hispanic population, though still small compared with other Southern cities, has grown by more than 30 percent. Together, the trends have pushed the African-American share of the population down to 59 percent in 2013, from 66 percent in 2005.3

But it isn’t just that there are fewer black New Orleanians; their place in the city’s economic fabric has fundamentally changed. African-Americans have long accounted for most of the city’s poor, but before the storm they also made up a majority of its middle class and were well represented among its doctors, lawyers and other professionals. After Katrina, the patterns changed: The poor are still overwhelmingly black, but the affluent and middle classes are increasingly white.4 Moreover, what remains of the black middle class is graying. Many of the middle-class African-Americans who returned to the city were retired or nearing the end of their careers; younger black professionals, meanwhile, fled the city in search of better opportunities elsewhere.

The aging of the black middle class stands in stark contrast to the influx of young, educated — and overwhelmingly white — professionals who have reshaped the city in the years since Katrina.5 Between 2011 and 2013 alone, New Orleans added nearly 10,000 college graduates under age 40. Many of them have been drawn by the thriving startup scene that emerged in the wake of the disaster; at a time of declining entrepreneurship nationally, New Orleans now has one of the highest business-formation rates in the country.
The article also takes note of at least one deliberate act that facilitated this shift. 
“When you fire all of the New Orleans public school teachers and its personnel, you’ve given a big whack to the middle class, because teaching was one of the professions where African-Americans knew they could go to school and come out with a job,” said Beverly Wright, a Dillard University sociologist. “Teachers were a treasured possession of the middle-class black community.”

Update:  Just to make the point more clear. This is from the Advocate this afternoon.
Public school teachers in New Orleans are considerably more likely to be white, inexperienced, without local roots and lacking formal teaching credentials as a result of the charter school movement that has remade public education in the city since Hurricane Katrina.

Those are the conclusions drawn by Tulane University’s Education Research Alliance for New Orleans in a report released Monday.
Elsbet says, "Being white is the credential" 

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