New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Discusses the Search for Better Outcomes in the World of Law Enforcement (Post 3 of 3)

A drawing of a policeman sitting on a badge. This third and final post reflecting the “In Search of Better Outcomes” theme of the new Marquette Lawyer magazine begins with a third pair of articles, the one that actually provides the quoted phrase (see here and here for the previous posts and previous pairs). These last two articles, with a brief introduction, look at the impact of law enforcement on people on different sides of the badge—and at possibilities for better outcomes both for those in law enforcement who are affected negatively by the cumulative trauma with which they deal and for offenders upon release, after they have served time in incarceration.

“Behind the Badge: A Growing Sense of the Need in Law Enforcement to C ope with Trauma” is an edited transcript of a panel discussion involving four people who have served in law enforcement. They offer insights on the need for better avenues for getting help for those who see so much violence and extreme behavior as part of their jobs protecting the public. The discussion was part of Law School’s Restorative Justice Initiative conference on November 9, 2018, titled “The Power of Restorative Justice in Healing Trauma in Our Community.”

“Putting a Period at the End of the Sentence,” an article by Alan Borsuk, draws on a conference, on October 4, 2018, of the Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education. Titled “Racial Inequality, Poverty, and the Criminal Justice System,” the gathering focused on issues facing people who are returning to the general community after incarceration. The story features some of the keynote remarks by Bruce Western, a sociology professor at Columbia University and author of Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison (2018). It also reports on observations by leaders of programs in the Milwaukee area that aim to help people leaving incarceration establish stable lives in the community.

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Marquette Lawyer Magazine Looks at the Milwaukee Public Schools—and Seemingly Timeless Societal Problems, Especially Segregation (Post 2 of 3)

Judge John W. Reynolds sitting in a chairA previous blog post discussed a pair of stories in the Summer 2019 Marquette Lawyer magazine and concluded by quoting one of them: specifically, an observation by Professor David Strauss of the University of Chicago, based on the Boden Lecture at Marquette Law School by Duke’s Professor Ernest Young, that “in the end, there is only so much the law can do to save a society from its own moral failings.” This post takes up a second pair of stories in the magazine, from which one might draw the same conclusion.

While it remains a fact about the large majority of schools in the Milwaukee area now, segregation of Milwaukee school students by race was the subject of great energy—attention, advocacy, and controversy—in the 1960s and 1970s. Two pieces in this summer’s Marquette Lawyer focus on the Milwaukee education scene of that earlier era.

In one, Alan Borsuk, the Law School’s senior fellow in law and public policy, writes about the decision issued in January 1976, by U.S. District Judge John W. Reynolds, which ordered that the Milwaukee Public Schools be desegregated. “A Simple Order, a Complex Legacy” touches upon the legal history of school desegregation cases, Reynolds’ 1976 ruling itself, and the legacy of that Milwaukee ruling. To borrow a phrase from Professor Young’s Boden Lecture, there is scarcely “an optimistic, onward-and-upward feel” to the account.

Continue ReadingMarquette Lawyer Magazine Looks at the Milwaukee Public Schools—and Seemingly Timeless Societal Problems, Especially Segregation (Post 2 of 3)

Posley Offers Optimism on MPS’ Future, Driven by Emphasizing Basics

You can’t build a home from the roof down. You have to start with the foundation and build upward. And that’s what Keith Posley, interim superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, is stressing in the early months of leading Wisconsin’s largest and most challenging school district.

Educators often get caught up in new programs and ideas for education that sound appealing, Posley said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program Wednesday at Marquette Law School. But education – and building greater success for MPS – needs to be start with teaching the basics so that all students learn to read, write and do math early in their school years. Add to that building good school attendance and the ability to work well with others and you have grounds for a bright future for kids and for MPS, Posley said.

Posley offered Gousha, the Law School’s distinguished fellow in law and public policy, and an audience of about 200, including many key figures in education in Milwaukee, an optimistic vision of what lies ahead for MPS.

“Milwaukee Public Schools is alive and well and we’re going to do great things,” Posley said. “Give me five years,” Posley said, and MPS tests scores in reading and math will be above the state average. Maybe it can be done in three, he added. Overall, MPS scores as of last year were far below state averages.

Gousha asked how patient people should be with seeing improvement in the overall success of MPS students. It will take some time to see results, Posley said, but people should see right away how energized Posley and MPS as a whole are in improving. “We have to move at a fast pace and I am moving at a fast pace, my team is moving at a fast pace.” Posley said. “I know exactly what needs to happen.”

He said, “Everyone knows if we have a strong Milwaukee Public Schools, we’re going to have a strong Milwaukee and a strong Wisconsin. . . . We’ve got to continue to work – to work until we can get to where we need to be.”

Posley proposed to the School Board during its budget work in the spring that large cuts be made in the central administration of MPS rather than cutting budgets in schools. Posley said he did that because “if we’re going to make a change, it’s going to happen in the classroom.” He said, “I have to put every ounce of money we have – I put 89 cents of every dollar we have — in the classroom.” His goal for next year is to raise that to 90 cents, he said.

Concerns were raised in a recent report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum about the long-term financial picture for MPS. Asked about that, Posley said MPS could use more money, but he would not be deterred by finances. “I’m going to make it happen with whatever I have,” he said. What will he do if MPS gets fresh revenue in upcoming state budgets? “I’ve created a wish list already,” he said. The list, he said, includes reviving an effort of about a decade ago called the Milwaukee Math Partnership and doing more to strengthen offerings for children from birth to five.

Posley grew up in a small town in Mississippi and was recruited for a teaching job in Milwaukee almost three decades ago. He said he expected to stay in Milwaukee for one year. But he loved working in schools and advanced from being a teacher to an assistant principal to a principal to a series of administrative positions before being named to head the system.

His willing to make a long-term commitment to this job? “Mike, this is home,” he said. “Mississippi is in the rear-view mirror.” Posley wants to drop the word “interim” from his title, a step the Milwaukee School Board is likely to take soon. He certainly is not acting like someone who intends to fill the job for a short time. “I have the steering wheel now, and I’m driving,” Posley said.

To view the one-hour video of the program, click here.







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