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

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Category: Civil Rights, Education & Law, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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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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“I Want to Make Sure I Don’t Educate Monsters”

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During an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” discussion at Eckstein Hall on Sept. 11, Michael Berenbaum, a prominent scholar of the Nazi Holocaust, described the Wannsee Conference held near Berlin on Jan. 20, 1942, when 15 leaders from branches of the German government met to develop ways to cooperate effectively in killing Jews by the hundreds of thousands. The leaders did not set the policy of killing Jews, he said, but they greatly increased the pace and efficiency of the genocide. At the time of Wannsee, four out of five of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust were still alive, Berenbaum said. Fifteen months later, four of five were dead.

What Berernbaum noted about the conference was that all 15 participants had university degrees. Eight had doctorates. Seven were lawyers.

A responsibility of all teachers, he said, is “to make sure that we do not create educated monsters who have all the skills and the abilities of modern men and women, all the genius of modern technology, all the capacity for creative thought, and no moral core.”

“I want to make sure that I don’t educate monsters,” Berenbaum said in summarizing his goal as an educator. Read more »

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Lovell Wants to Build on “Penned Up Energy” of Marquette Community

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One thing Michael Lovell has learned about Marquette University since starting as president on July 1 is that there are many people on campus who have great pride in the institution and who want to make it better.

“There’s a lot of penned up energy,” Lovell said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session at Eckstein Hall on Tuesday. “People have some great ideas and they’re just waiting to go . . . For some reason or other, they just didn’t feel empowered to take those great ideas and just make them happen.”

That will be one of his main goals, Lovell said: Providing the resources and guidance for fresh ways to improve Marquette in all its aspects.

But Lovell held off on giving many specifics on what his agenda will be. For one thing, he said he is planning to unveil some plans during the events marking his inauguration next week. He reiterated previous statements that filling “a lot of open senior positions,” as he put it, is his first priority. “It is so important to get the right thought leaders in place.” Read more »

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Forward Looking: New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Looks at Present and Future of Key Issues

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Marquette Lawyer - Summer 2014Past, present, future—the Summer 2014 Marquette Lawyer focuses its attention on important and interesting facets of all three. But let us draw your attention to it foremost for its thoughts on the future, including:

The future of campaign spending. In the cover story, Heather K. Gerken, the J. Skelly Wright Professor at Yale Law School, examines the impact of the Citizens United decision of 2010, in The Real Problem with Citizens United: Campaign Finance, Dark Money, and Shadow Parties. Based on her Boden Lecture last fall at Marquette Law School, Gerken suggests that the case’s most important result could be a gulf between the elites involved in national political campaigns and the rank and file party members who have historically been the backbone of the parties. The article may be found by clicking here. Read more »

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Conference Probes the Depth and Breadth of Political Polarization

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Category: Media & Journalism, Milwaukee, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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“I believe in my heart that we have a lot more in common than we have differences,” said Tom Meaux, Ozaukee County Administrator.

But if you do the numbers, we have a dramatic amount not in common. And no one has done the numbers the way the Marquette Law School and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have.

The numbers – voting data, polling results, a wide range of demographic statistics – spell out the polarization that has become a dominant fact of politics in Wisconsin and especially in southeastern Wisconsin. A six-month fellowship at the Law School, funded by the Lubar Fund for Public Policy Research, allowed Craig Gilbert, Washington bureau chief of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, to collaborate with Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School Poll, in producing an analysis of the growing political divide that offers remarkable depth and breadth.

The result was a four-part series in the Journal Sentinel and a conference Thursday at Eckstein Hall, sponsored by the Law School and the Journal Sentinel, that brought together Gilbert, Franklin, political leaders, and academic experts to discuss what unites us, what divides us, and what lies ahead, given the intense current divisions. Read more »

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Baldwin Points to Tax Issues for the Super-Rich as a Rising Issue

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Category: Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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Could using tax policy to reduce the gaps between the highest income Americans and middle and lower income people be an important, and maybe hot, issue ahead?

Sen. Tammy Baldwin indicated that was her perspective and that she was open to ideas for using tax reform changes to pursue that goal during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday at Eckstein Hall.

“We clearly have a system that has chosen, in certain policy decisions made, to reward wealth over work,” Baldwin said.  “I think we have to question a system that works that way.”

Baldwin said some other countries have policies that limit the maximum salaries of CEOs in relation to the salaries of their employees. “I don’t think we’re going to see those kind of initiatives” in the United States, she said. “But that leaves the tax code really as our predominant way of looking at this and understanding this. . . . That’s an issue we should think about.” Read more »

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Sounding Like a Candidate, Clarke Asks, Where’s the Plan for Milwaukee?

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He said hardly anything about running the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department or the controversies he is involved in within county government. The policy area he talked about the most was education. And he spoke a lot about the Milwaukee of his childhood and the Milwaukee of the future.

No, David A. Clarke Jr. is not a stick-to-my-own-business law enforcement agency head. Milwaukee’s sheriff since 2002 didn’t say he was going to run for mayor during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Thursday at Eckstein Hall, but he sure sounded like a candidate.

“What’s the vision for the city of Milwaukee?” Clarke asked, faulting Mayor Tom Barrett for not putting one forth. “What’s the plan” for getting better student outcomes from Milwaukee Public Schools? A $1.2 billion a year operation ought to get better results, no matter how many problems kids have due to their lives outside of school, he said. “I think they’re mass producing illiteracy,” he said. Read more »

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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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Burke Zings Walker, Touts Herself as Pro-Business Candidate

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Who’s the real pro-business, pro-jobs candidate in this year’s election for governor of Wisconsin? Mary Burke, who is mounting a major campaign as a Democrat, used an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Tuesday in the Appellate Courtroom of Eckstein Hall to say it’s her.

Her visit provided her first public comments on her long-awaited economic development plan, which was released late Monday night. With the presumption that jobs and the economy will be the central issue, Burke said she’s the one with specific plans that will create a better business climate in Wisconsin.

Burke held up a four-page position paper on the subject from Walker’s 2010 race for governor and said, “I’ve seen eighth grade term papers that frankly had more work put into them.” She said that in terms of job creation, Wisconsin still ranked 35th in the country and ninth among 10 Midwestern states after three a half years of Walker as governor. Wisconsin also ranks 48th in business start-ups, she said, and she criticized the track record of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which Walker created to succeed the state Commerce Department that Burke headed under Gov. Jim Doyle a decade ago.

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Ribble and Pocan: Political Opposites Find the Attractions of Working Together

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Category: Congress & Congressional Power, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Speakers at Marquette
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Reid Ribble says that when Mark Pocan was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012, Ribble was told by some Republican legislators in Madison he should reach out to Pocan.Ribble said then-Rep. Tammy Baldwin did the same for him when he was elected in 2011.

So Ribble contacted Pocan, and the two developed a friendship that has seen them work together in friendly, civil ways, including in the work of the House budget committee, on which they each serve.

What’s so unusual about that? Only this: Ribble is a Republican who represents the Appleton-Green Bay area in Washington. He is a self-described conservative with a libertarian bent. Pocan is a self-described progressive liberal Democrat who represents the Madison area. (For that matter, Baldwin, who helped Ribble on his arrival and who is now a senator, is one of the most liberal members of Congress.)

You just don’t do that cross-the-aisle stuff in the divisive, highly partisan atmosphere that surrounds Congress.

Or do you? Ribble and Pocan are now leading figures in a growing effort called the No-Labels Problem Solvers, which brings together members in the House and Senate from both parties in informal social settings, just to get to know each other. Ribble was one of the four initial members of the group, which has grown to more than 90, including two other Republican representatives from Wisconsin, Sean Duffy and Tom Petri.

At an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” session Monday at Eckstein Hall, Pocan and Ribble described the effort and their hopes that it will change the way Congress handles many issues and raise the low-opinion so many Americans have of Congress. Read more »

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Hallows Lecture Examines Little Noted, but Pivotal Civil Rights Decision

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Category: Civil Rights, Constitutional Interpretation, Legal History, Public, Race & Law, Speakers at Marquette
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“Remarkable but relatively obscure” – that’s how Judge Paul T. Watford of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit described the 1945 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Screws v. United States. In presenting Marquette Law School’s annual Hallows Lecture on March 4, Judge Watford aimed to lift the decision from some of its obscurity and increase awareness of “the birth of federal civil rights enforcement,” as the title of his lecture put it.

The case began with the vicious and fatal beating of Robert Hall, an African-American man, by M. Claude Screws, the sheriff of Baker County, Ga., and two of Screws’ deputies. Judge Watford said the circumstances of Hall’s death provide a window into how African Americans of that era had to live with the “ever-present reality” of unwarranted violence against them by white law enforcement officers. Even given the many witnesses to Hall’s death, Georgia authorities declined to prosecute Screws and his deputies. But, in what Watford described as an unusual development for that time, a federal indictment was issued against them for violating Hall’s civil rights.

Ultimately, a splintered Supreme Court did not do all that civil rights advocates would have wanted, but the justices upheld the application in situations such as this of 18 U.S.C. § 242, prohibiting violation of civil rights by someone acting under the color of law. The majority of justices rejected the argument that civil rights violations were a matter to be left to the states, although no single opinion commanded a majority.

“Had Screws come out the other way, and been decided against the federal government, federal civil rights enforcement would have been stifled,” Watford said. “Instead, it was given new life, and that helped change the course of history, particularly in the South, in the second half of the twentieth century.”  Read more »

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New Speaker Series in Labor and Employment Law

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I am excited to announce the kick-off of a new speaker series in labor and employment law, sponsored by the Labor and Employment Law Program at Marquette University Law School.

We are really starting the program off with a bang.

On March 17th, Sam Estreicher (NYU Law) will be debating yours truly on his new labor law reform proposal, “Easy In, Easy Out” (details about that proposal here). You can register here.

On March 27th, in conjunction with the Third Annual ERISA National Conference at Marquette, Assistant Secretary of Labor and head of the Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) Phyllis Borzi will be speaking about the Affordable Care Act. You can register here.

Finally, on April 8th, Professor Takashi Araki, former Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Tokyo Law School and Visiting Professor this semester at Harvard Law School, will be coming to speak about contemporary topics in Japanese employment law.  You can register here.

All events are scheduled at noon and include lunch. Read more »

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