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  Many welcome first lady, but wonder if Bush has forgotten N.O.
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ContributorThe Sunset Provision 
Last EditedThe Sunset Provision  Apr 19, 2007 10:53pm
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News DateFriday, April 20, 2007 04:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionFirst lady Laura Bush visited New Orleans Thursday to drum up support for a crippled educational system, but in a place where Southern hospitality competes with an urgency to rebuild, many wondered if she and the president understood the depth of the city's needs nearly 20 months after Hurricane Katrina.

At the New Orleans Charter Science and Mathematics High School, Bush said the private Teach For America foundation had attracted 100 new teachers to the city through $17,000 incentive payouts given to any instructor who stays for two years. But state officials estimate the city needs 550 more to keep pace with the number of students expected to return next session.

"Today, I want to urge teachers across the country to consider building your careers here," Bush said at the school. At the private Holy Cross School for Boys in the hard-hit Lower 9th Ward, the first lady announced $502,000 in grants for Gulf Coast libraries from her Laura Bush Foundation, but only four of the 14 recipients were from the city of New Orleans.

Across the street from Holy Cross, which received a grant from the foundation despite its private status, resident Kelvin Hewitt watched the first lady's motorcade pass the teetering home he is trying to salvage through his own labor and a $43,000 city historical grant. He said he, like many New Orleanians, had yet to receive funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He pointed out that the Holy Cross School is scheduled to move to another part of the city because of storm damage, depriving the struggling community of an employer and leaving him a sprawling empty lot for a potential neighbor.

President Bush "is distancing himself from New Orleans due to all the heat he's been receiving," said Hewitt, 35. "But people would still prefer to see him as opposed to his wife. I know they have separate agendas. She does one thing and he does another. But it's kinda unfortunate that she's here and he's not."

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