MATC President Describes a Tuition-Free Promise That Could Change Milwaukee

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Vicki Martin was at a national conference of community college leaders and set out to attend a workshop. But she walked into a different session than the one was looking for. That worked out well — it triggered a change in her thinking that may trigger a change in the education and job prospects for large numbers of low-income Milwaukee young adults.

Martin is president of Milwaukee Area Technical College and the session she walked into was about a program called the Tennessee Promise, which offers two years of community and technical college education with no tuition cost for high school graduates in that state.

“It really caught my imagination,” Martin said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on Feb. 23. She decided, “This is very doable. . . . We just have to do it.” Read more »

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Justice Scalia at Marquette Law School

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Category: Education & Law, Judges & Judicial Process, Legal Education, Marquette Law School, Public, Seventh Circuit, U.S. Supreme Court
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Judge Diane Sykes introduces Justice Antonin Scalia at the dedication of Eckstein Hall

Judge Sykes introduces Justice Scalia

It seems to be common ground that it will be hard to imagine the United States Supreme Court without the late Justice Antonin Scalia. He was a force also in legal education more directly. That is, he was a teacher, and he taught his theories of constitutional and statutory interpretation with intellect and energy, even outside of his writings in the U.S. Reports.

 

Justice Scalia visited us at Marquette University Law School on two occasions. The first was in 2001 to deliver our annual Hallows Lecture, where some 500 people were with him in the Weasler Auditorium, while a group of the same size watched a video feed in the Monaghan Ballroom of the Alumni Memorial Union. For me, the more memorable moment in that visit came when the Justice first arrived to campus, where an overflowing group of law students awaited him in Room 307 of Sensenbrenner Hall. The dean at the time, Howard B. Eisenberg, told the students that I would introduce him, because “Without Professor Kearney, there would be no Justice Scalia here.” Even before I could say anything, Justice Scalia brought the house down with this interjection: “I thought that, without Justice Scalia, there would be no Professor Kearney here.”

Justice Scalia returned to deliver the keynote address at the dedication of Eckstein Hall on September 8, 2010. He relaxed his strictures on recording, and the entire ceremony can be seen here, with an account of it appearing in the Marquette Law Review. I especially recall this comment of Judge Diane S. Sykes, L’84, in introducing the Justice:

“So we are fortunate, indeed, that this history-making justice has joined us here today as we make a little history of our own. When Dean Kearney unveiled the plans for this beautiful building two years ago, he famously declared that Eckstein Hall will be ‘noble, bold, harmonious, dramatic, confident, slightly willful, and, in a word, great.’ It certainly is. And with the possible exception of harmonious—Justice Scalia has been known to say that one of his charms is that he likes to tell people what they don’t want to hear—the dean’s description of this distinguished and splendid building might likewise be applied to our distinguished and splendid visitor. So, ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the noble, bold, dramatic, confident, slightly willful, and, and in a word, great Justice Antonin Scalia.”

There are things to learn from the remarks of Justice Scalia and the other speakers that day, including then-Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, whether in the recording or the law review account linked above. My own recollection of Justice Scalia has appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and can be found here.

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New Cristo Rey High School Has High Career Aims for Students

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For Maritza Contreras, the Cristo Rey experience began with seeing high school kids in her neighborhood on the way to school all dressed up. She was about nine at the time and the idea of going to school in your best clothes was “the weirdest thing I ever heard of.” But she was attracted to it.  She made it her goal to go to Cristo Rey High School, a private school in her Chicago neighborhood where teens were required to work part time in real jobs in real work places and to aim to go to and succeed in college so that they could become adults working in places like the ones where they did their student placements.

For Contreras, Cristo Rey meant being asked for the first time about her college plans. It meant learning a set of skills and expectations that opened avenues for her, including small but important things such as how to shake hands firmly while making eye contact with someone.

And it meant enrolling in Marquette University with major scholarship support, graduating cum laude with a degree in nursing, and setting aside her nursing ambitions “for now” to get involved in helping the community as director of administrative management services for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin.

Cristo Rey has grown also. Starting in 1996 with the school Contreras attended, there are now 30 Christo Rey schools across the country. A local school, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, opened this fall with 129 ninth graders, almost all of them low-income and benefitting from the state’s private school voucher program. The school is based in a church in West Milwaukee, just south of Miller Park. Read more »

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Kettle Moraine Kids, Compared to the World

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You could expect students in the Kettle Moraine school district to do well. The communities served by the district in western Waukesha County are generally doing well economically, parents are involved and expect good results, and the school leaders and staff are talented professionals.

But what does “do well” mean? Compared to whom? Neighboring districts? Wisconsin? The nation?

How about the world?

Kettle Moraine has been an eager participant in a small, but growing movement that involves samples of 15-year-olds taking a test called the OECD Test for Schools. It yields comparisons of individual schools to students in nations around the world. The test also includes a set of questions that yield potentially insightful information for school leaders on the perspectives of students about the learning environment they find, both at school and elsewhere.

I was asked by editors of Education Next, a widely-followed national magazine and Web site, to write about Kettle Moraine’s involvement with the OECD Test.

The story can be found by clicking here and will be in  the issue of Education Next to be published in coming weeks.

And the answer  to the question of how Kettle Moraine kids are doing? The answer, in short, is quite well, but there’s room for improvement.

 

 

 

 

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Sampling the Strong Stew of Thoughts at Eckstein Hall Education Conference

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Given the long list of controversial and major decisions to be made soon as the process of setting Wisconsin’s state budget for the next two years comes to a head, it was remarkable how much agreement there was among speakers at the wide-ranging conference on kindergarten through twelfth grade education policy Monday at Eckstein Hall.

“Pivotal Points: A Forum on Key Wisconsin Education Issues as Big Decisions Approach” brought together key figures involved in politics, schools, and education policy before a full-house audience in the Appellate Courtroom.

Yes, there were differences. But speakers covering a spectrum of views found a lot in common, including the need for stable, adequate funding of schools and stable, effective approaches to dealing with assessing students and tackling the challenges of schools where success is not common.

The four-hour conference opened with welcoming remarks from Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell and ended with something close to agreement by a Republican and Democrat involved in State Assembly education policy that “low performing” schools need support and help more than they need to be closed. Read more »

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Katie Maloney Perhach Discusses Her Leadership Role at Quarles & Brady

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Marquette Law alum Katie Maloney Perhach discusses her leadership role at Quarles & Brady in this interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  She is managing partner for the Milwaukee office and the chair of its Financial Institutions Litigation Group.

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Law and the Horse

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Horse and RiderIf you’ve spent much time around me, you know that I’ve got horse-crazy daughters.  My oldest is fourteen, and she’s just starting her tenth year of riding.  Her sisters joined in the fun a couple years after she started.  That has meant all sorts of things for our family, one of which is that I’ve spent an awful lot of time watching riding lessons.

It’s no surprise that spending that much time watching my daughters being taught a set of skills has led me to reflect on my own teaching.  There are, I’ve concluded, lots of connections, and so in this post I’m going to try to persuade you of two things:  The first is that learning to be a lawyer is in meaningful respects similar to learning a skill like how to ride a horse.  (Or, for that matter, figure skating.)  Both processes involve not merely the acquisition of information, but also a somewhat ineffable sense for how to engage in an activity.  The second is that those similarities can help provide some interesting perspectives on what we do in law schools.

I am breaking no new ground in making the first point.  Karl Llewellyn, for example, wrote of the value to lawyers and judges of “situation sense” and “horse sense” and of understanding that – and even more, understanding how – legal rules will often tell a tale that is incomplete or even wrong when applied to certain fact patterns.  This is a view of law as a craft.  Doing it well requires cultivating an often inarticulable sense of what sorts of responses are appropriate to which situations.  We might call it judgment.  Some of this is doctrinal knowledge, the content of the “law.”  But, Llewellyn admonished new law students, as memorialized in The Bramble Bush, “it does not make so very much difference whether you remember the specific rules.  Good, if you do.  But even if you do not, there remains a deposit, formless, curious—but one which informs your hunches in the future.”  Few of us remember much in the way of doctrinal specifics from our first semester in law school, but none of us could claim that we didn’t learn much.

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MPS Is at a “Tipping Point,” Driver Tells Law School Audience

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The Milwaukee Public Schools system is “at a tipping point” where improvements in how the system is run and a strong base of community support need to lead to better overall academic achievement for students, the new superintendent of MPS, Darienne Driver, said Wednesday.

Speaking at an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall, Driver said, “We have to get results.” But she said MPS is going through a lot of transitions that are helping make schools poised to do that.

But Driver, who became superintendent Oct. 1, spoke a short time after two influential Republican legislators in Madison released the outlines of a plan to deal with poverty in Milwaukee that could see control of some low-performing schools taken from MPS and given to independent charter schools. The ideas floated by Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Dale Kooyenga suggest the tough time MPS is likely to have in the current legislative session.

Driver said the ideas from Darling and Kooyenga “really get away from the investment we should be making in our public schools.” She said it could be “devastating” to schools that would be closed and re-opened. The idea of creating something similar to the Recovery School District in New Orleans, which the legislators suggested, is a distraction that would not yield good results overall, Driver said. Read more »

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Robb Rauh: In Pursuit of Life, Liberty, Happiness, and Educational Success

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Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – what’s more at the core of America’s identity than those words? But what do they mean if you’re living in the central city of Milwaukee?

Robb Rauh, the CEO of Milwaukee College Prep, a set of four high-performing schools with about 1,900 students on the north side, focused on those questions as he set the context for the mission of the schools during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session Tuesday in Eckstein Hall.

Life? Infant mortality rates are much higher in Milwaukee than in the nation and even in some third-world countries, Rauh said, and life expectancy is lower than elsewhere. Liberty? Wisconsin has the highest incarceration gaps between white and black people in the nation. The pursuit of happiness? “One of the things that defines happiness is being able to have choices in life,” Rauh said, and without at least a high school degree, a person’s choices are limited. The overall situation of African American children in Wisconsin has been described as the worst or one of the worst in the United States.

“We want to prove that it can be done,” to bring terms like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to life by increasing the educational success and opening the doors to better futures for children, particularly along the North Avenue corridor where all four Milwaukee College Prep schools are located, Rauh said. Among schools in Milwaukee with high percentages of African American students, all four schools are at or near the top of the list when it comes to scores in the newly-released state report cards. Read more »

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The Howard Fuller You Probably Don’t Know: An Advocate’s Remarkable Life

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Fifty-five minutes into Thursday’s one-hour “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program, prominent education advocate Howard Fuller finally began talking about the last 20 years of his life. Because the conversation was dragging on? Definitely not. It was because Fuller has led such a remarkable life, with so many chapters (and so many stories to tell) that talking about earlier years was appealing and confining even a well-paced interview to an hour was hard.

Many people in Milwaukee associate Fuller with his nationally significant role as an advocate for private school vouchers and charter schools in the last couple decades. But the full story of his life offers not only a remarkable personal narrative, but provocative perspective on the development of political thinking and advocacy among African Americans in the United States since the 1950s.

Fuller, 73, provided a healthy dose of that narrative and perspective in the session with Gousha, Marquette Law School’s Distinguished Fellow in Law and Public Policy, before a capacity audience in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall. In much more detail, it is what he provides in his autobiography, No Struggle, No Progress: A Warrior’s Life from Black Power to Education Reform, published this month by Marquette University Press. Read more »

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Chasing Happiness

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HappinessA July 2014 article in the Wisconsin Lawyer magazine describes a nationwide study about the happiness of lawyers.  This study shows factors that correlate with lawyer happiness, as well as those that don’t correlate.  Those factors that correlate most strongly are what the article calls internal factors, and the factors that are least likely to correlate are external factors.  The internal factors relate to how well a person is able to communicate and interact with others, and the external factors relate to points largely outside one’s immediate control.

The article highlights the following internal factors, which positively influence lawyer happiness:

•Autonomy, or being authentic and having a sense of control over one’s choices (0.66)
•Relatedness to others (0.65)
•Feeling competent in performing one’s job (0.63)
•Internal motivation at work (0.55) – that is, finding the work itself meaningful, enjoyable, and so on, rather than being motivated by external factors, such as pressure from others or needing to impress others
•Autonomy support at work (0.46)
•Intrinsic values (0.30) – these may include personal growth, helping others, and so on, in contrast to such extrinsic values as power, affluence, and others

 

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“You Betcha” and Other Wisdom from Education Conference at Eckstein Hall

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Can we expect kids living in impoverished central cities to have the same levels of educational success as other kids?

“You betcha,” answered Michael Casserly.

I’m reluctant to reduce three hours of insightful conversation about urban education to two words, but more than a week later, that phrase is among several that sticks with me from “Lessons from Elsewhere: What Milwaukee Can Learn from Work on Improving Urban Education Systems Nationwide,” a conference at Eckstein Hall sponsored by Marquette Law School and Marquette College of Education.

Nobody among the speakers nor in the audience minimized the challenges of raising the overall achievement in schools in Milwaukee. But there was a widespread feeling of commitment to taking on the job, and even some optimism that it can be done. Read more »

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