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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

Touro Infirmary and New Orleans Public Library
have joined forces to give away 400 baby-friendly "literacy kits" to new mothers. The kits include a canvas book bag, a board book, an all-cotton infant toy, literacy tips, information on obtaining a library card and general information about the local library. This program is designed to encourage parents to start reading to their infant children. Studies show that children exposed to reading at an early age have better language skills and are more ready for school.

Barbara MacPhee,
principal at New Orleans Charter Science and Math High School, recently received the Ciba Chemicals High School Principal Award from the National Science Teachers Association. MacPhee was cited for her role in founding the Science and Math High School as a half-day institution in 1993 and then bringing it back after Hurricane Katrina as an all-day charter school. More than 95 percent of Science and Math's graduates, most of them from underserved backgrounds, enroll in universities.

Susan Panzavecchia,
a teacher at Alice M. Birney Elementary School in Metairie, was among only 82 teachers nationwide to be honored at the recent Milken National Education Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Milken National Educator Awards, established in 1987, is the largest teacher recognition program in the country. Panzavecchia and the other winners each received $25,000 in conjunction with the awards, which honor exceptional K-12 teachers, principals and specialists from across the nation.

FEMA
and other federal agencies accepted only a fraction of the millions in aid that poured into the United States from foreign countries after Hurricane Katrina, according to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The federal government apparently had no system in place to receive and process the aid and was overwhelmed by the international response, says CREW. Worse yet, the feds are still not set up to handle such aid if another Katrina-like storm were to hit.

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