Amid Different Views, Education Conference Participants Show Interest in Dialogue on Issues

The most interesting part of a conference on education issues at Marquette Law School’s Eckstein Hall on Nov. 17, 2022, arguably did not take place during the conference itself. It was in the 45 minutes after the formal end of the two-hour session. A significant number of those who spoke or who were in the audience stayed on in the room to talk.

People from some of the best known and firmest ranks of the conservative and liberal sides of Wisconsin’s long-standing education debates stood in small groups, talking with each other civilly and sometimes with some agreement on what was being said. In some cases, they were people who had never met in person previously.

Those in attendance included four of the nine members of the Milwaukee School Board and several staff members from the Wisconsin Institute of Law & Liberty (WILL), a leading force in conservative advocacy on education issues. Along with other school leaders, civic leaders, and people from a range of education involvements, people found a lot to talk about.

It would go too far to say minds were changed and problems were solved. But serious and level-headed exchanges about issues are one of the core goals of programs of the Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education, and that was a goal served during and in the aftermath of the conference. (more…)

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COVID’s Impact on Children Would Have Been Reduced If U.S. Were More “Child-centric,” Author Says  

“We need a child-centric society. We were revealed to be not a child-centric society.”

That was the way Anya Kamenetz summed up her perspective on how the United States as a whole dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020, and especially its broad negative impacts on children.

If we were a child-centric society, the needs of children all over the country would have been addressed far better, not only in terms of health-related policy, but in terms of the social, emotional, and general developmental needs of parents while dealing with COVID, Kamenetz said.

Kamenetz, a former education reporter for National Public Radio, assesses the impact of the pandemic period on children in a new book, The Stolen Year: How COVID Changed Children’s Lives, and Where we Go Now. And she talked about the pandemic and children in an “On the Issues” program at Marquette Law School’s Eckstein Hall on Oct. 24. (more…)

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Celebrating the Class of 2022—Old Traditions and New Elements

It was my privilege to be in the splendid courtroom of the Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday (Monday, May 23) to move the admission of Marquette law graduates to the bar. They graduated this past weekend, so such admission was their privilege, by virtue of receiving our diploma, meeting the court’s curricular requirements, and satisfying its character and fitness standards. In looking for a prior such motion that I had made, I came upon the one from 2015, where I noted…

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Au Revoir To Kill a Mockingbird

A photo of the cover of "To Kill a Mockingbird"My oldest daughter teaches bilingual English in a City of Milwaukee high school, and I greatly enjoy our conversations regarding the literary works she assigns.  However, I was surprised when she told me recently that she and her fellow teachers no longer felt comfortable assigning Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird.

Published in 1960, Lee’s novel has for over sixty years garnered great admiration and respect as an American literary work.  Many have considered the novel’s Atticus Finch to be an inspiring lawyer hero and taken the novel’s law-related narrative to be one of courageous resistance to racial injustice.  As recently as ten years ago, virtually every American high schooler was expected to have read To Kill a Mockingbird Bird.

Why has the novel fallen so precipitously?  I can think of at least three developments that have hurt its standing: (more…)

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School districts that use pandemic funds wisely may see payoff

This appeared as a column in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 25, 2021.

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. It won’t really accomplish anything.

Both opinions are widely held as schools across the country plan for what to do with a huge wave of federal funding intended to boost both students and schools as a result of the pandemic.

“This is an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children,” Keith Posley, superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, said during a Marquette Law School program posted online July 21 on how the money will be used. Posley added, “Our children deserve these funds and even more to make sure they are able to truly get the quality education that they deserve and live that American dream.”

But you need look no farther than the state Capitol in Madison to find opposite views. In late May, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “The amount of federal money that is going to school districts is overwhelming. It’s really kind of obscene in many ways.” The new state budget kept a tight limit on school spending across Wisconsin largely because of Republican opinions of the federal aid. (more…)

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