Fresh Thoughts on How to Close the Pre-Kindergarten Learning Gap

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(This is a lightly-edited version of a column I wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that ran in the Dec. 8, 2019, print edition.)

Dana Suskind is a surgeon at the University of Chicago whose specialty is providing kids who have little or no hearing with high-tech cochlear implants that allow them to hear much better. But she noticed about a decade ago that some of her young patients had much better outcomes than others after receiving the implants.

Dana Suskind
Dana Suskind

“It was a really painful experience to watch” kids who now could hear but weren’t thriving. She worked to find the reason. Her conclusion: The problem “had less to do with their hearing loss and more to do with the environment into which they were born.” Generally, their lives were shaped by poverty, instability, high stress and limited exposure to experiences that are intellectually and emotionally beneficial.

Much the same is true for millions of children who are born with normal hearing. By the time they reach kindergarten, they are nowhere near as ready for school as children who with better lots in their early years.

Suskind became founder and co-director of a project called Thirty Million Words. The name came from a study from several decades ago that concluded that, by the time they reached school age, low-income children had heard 30 million fewer words in every-day conversation than children from higher income homes. This limited their educational readiness. Continue reading “Fresh Thoughts on How to Close the Pre-Kindergarten Learning Gap”

The Process of Writing About Your Childhood Library

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Cover of Midwest Architecture JourneysHow do you properly write about the Midwest? Since 2016, the Midwest and the Rust Belt are often lumped together as an area some people refer to as “Trump Country,” an anonymous area filled with diners of people who cling to guns and Bibles. There is nothing remotely interesting, other than possibly Chicago, and an article about how an area previously dismissed by coastal newspapers is up-and-coming because of places that will look good on Instagram. Belt Publishing, a small press in Cleveland, OH, was started in 2013 with the purpose of publishing the work and voices of those from the Midwest, Rust Belt, and elsewhere.

Midwest Architecture Journeys, released in October 2019 from Belt Publishing, examines a diverse range of spaces that would possibly be overlooked in a survey of the buildings of the Midwest. Among the topics covered in the book are the Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois, flea markets, Lillian Leenhouts’s work in Milwaukee, Fermilab, public housing towers, mausoleums, Iowa rest areas, parking lots in Flint, and a post office that became a public library in Waterloo, Iowa. The Waterloo Public Library is the subject of a piece I contributed to the book, “Please Return Again.” Continue reading “The Process of Writing About Your Childhood Library”

Welcome to Our December Guest Blogger

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Our Student Guest Blogger for December is 1L Monica Reida. Prior to going to law school, Monica worked as a journalist, contributing to Barista Magazine, OnMilwaukee, NewCity, and Gapers Block, where she was the politics editor from 2013-2015. She has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University, with a concentration in public affairs reporting. Monica is also the author of a chapter in the recently-released book Midwest Architecture Journeys, edited by Zach Mortice and published by Belt Publishing. According to the publisher, Midwest Architecture Journeys contains “dozens of essays written by architects, critics, and journalists” that “take[ ] readers on a trip to visit some of the region’s most inventive buildings,” but also “includes stops at less obvious but equally daring and defining sites, such as indigenous mounds, grain silos, parking lots, flea markets, and abandoned warehouses.” Monica’s chapter, “Please Return Again,” is about the public library in Waterloo, Iowa. We’re looking forward to hearing more about the chapter and Monica’s experience in getting it published. Welcome, Monica!

Marquette Teams Make Successful Showing at NMCC Regionals

Posted on Categories Appellate Advocacy, Legal Education, Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on Marquette Teams Make Successful Showing at NMCC Regionals
six students standing in law school
Marquette Law students who participated in the NMCC Region VIII competition (left to right): Kieran O’Day, Abby Hodgdon, Brooke Erickson, Kylie Owens, Micaela Haggenjos, and Kylie Kaltenberg.

Marquette University Law School hosted the Region VIII round of the 70th annual National Moot Court Competition on November 23-24, 2019. Both Marquette teams made successful showings.

Team members Kylie Kaltenberg, Abby Hodgdon, and Kieran O’Day advanced to the semifinal round before being eliminated after losing by less than one-half point. That team also had the third highest brief score* in the region. Professor Melissa Love Koenig advised the team, which was coached by attorneys Jason Luczak, Brianna Meyer (L’17), and Max Stephenson (L’13).

Brooke Erickson, Micaela Haggenjos, and Kylie Owens advanced to the quarterfinals before being eliminated after losing a close round to the other Marquette team. Professor Lisa Mazzie advised the team, and attorneys Bryn Baker (L’18), Chal Little (L’16), and Nicole Muller (L’18) coached the team.

Our attorney coaches are extremely dedicated and put in many hours of work with our students. We are lucky to have coaches who come back year after year. Our students benefit greatly from working with them. Our teams put in many hours of practice to prepare for the competition.

We are grateful for the time donated by the many judges and lawyers who judged the briefs and oral arguments for the NMCC Region VIII regionals. Moot Court Associate Justice Jake Rozema put in countless hours to ensure the competition ran as smoothly as it did. He was ably assisted by his committee, consisting of John Black, Colin Dunn, Danielle Gorsuch, Tyler Jochman, Peter Klepacz, Darrin Pribbernow, Alexander Sterling, Lucas Tabor, Brandie Tartza, and Caleb Tomaszewski. We appreciate the students who participated as bailiffs:  Alicia Bernards, Suzanne Caulfield, Vanessa Flores, Joshua Kundert, and Daniel Sievert. Continue reading “Marquette Teams Make Successful Showing at NMCC Regionals”

A Community Lawyering

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(Gratitude to Rodrigo Sanchez for assistance in compiling data on 53206.)

The Shriver Center in Chicago provides training on a particular model of community-based lawyering.  They define “community lawyering” as “using legal advocacy to help achieve solutions to community-identified issues in ways that develop local leadership and institutions that can continue to exert power to effect systemic change.” The concept grew out of the older ideas of community organizing generally pioneered by Saul Alinsky’s work in 1930s and 40s Chicago, where, broadly speaking, the goal is to promote the empowerment of citizens, i.e. members of the community, to address problems and effect change. These ideas were applied to the practice of law at least as far back as 1970 in the form of a Yale Law Journal article where Stephen Wexler outlined a number of ways in which effective lawyering in an impoverished community is different from the traditional practice of law.

Whereas the traditional lawyering model sets up an adversarial dynamic between parties, community lawyering may engage alternative systems of relational power or power sharing aimed at ultimate reconciliation or compromise, founded on a recognition of common interests between parties.  (See Ross Dolloff & Marc Potvin, Community Lawyering—Why Now?, 37 Clearinghouse Review 136 (July–Aug. 2003)).  Whereas traditional lawyering may entail simply spotting issues that can be resolved through litigation or formal legal recourse, community lawyering can approach citizen-identified problems as opportunities to engage stakeholders in a broader conversation in the hope of building authentic, trusting relationships.  Whereas the traditional lawyer model is that of a litigator, negotiator of claims, and counselor to the client, the community lawyer’s focus may be to “develop inside the client population a sustainable knowledge base that allows the population to build foundations for opportunity from within,” to identify and defeat the causes of poverty.  Whereas in the traditional lawyering model the attorney is the “voice” of the client before the court, in a community lawyering model, the strategy and policies are accountable to the voice of the population being served.  The lawyer assists a community in identifying a structural barrier (access to economic resources, housing, sustainability, stability, employment opportunities, political voice, etc.) and then helps build capacity within the community to take action (through organizing, relationship building, advocacy, policy development, traditional case work, etc.).

The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee applied for and received a grant funded by the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation to introduce its related but unique approach of embedding lawyers into communities called “neighborhood lawyering,” focused on two targeted communities in Milwaukee.  Continue reading “A Community Lawyering”

The Unprofessionals

Posted on Categories Alumni Contributor, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Judges & Judicial Process, Legal History, Political Processes & Rhetoric, Public, Race & Law, U.S. Supreme Court1 Comment on The Unprofessionals

In the decade after the American Civil War, Congress ratified three Amendments (the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth) and passed five civil rights statutes (the Freedmen’s Bureau Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Civil Rights Act of 1870, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875) in an attempt to integrate African Americans into society and provide them with the full rights and privileges of citizenship.  From rights to vote, hold property, and contract, to rights of access to the courts, public infrastructure, and the marketplace, these enactments represented a dream of reconstruction that strove toward a more universal application of the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.  In striking down and interpreting these laws, the decisions of the Supreme Court played a crucial role in curtailing the promise of this older civil rights movement.  The Court’s undermining of the laws led to the legal segregation, discrimination, terrorizing, denial of due process, lynching, murdering, exploitation, and injustice that characterizes the African American experience in the century that followed.

The highlight reel that we all study in Constitutional Law class includes:

Continue reading “The Unprofessionals”

Our Dullened Rhetorical Swords

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Okay, class, we will now turn to sentence diagramming.  Let’s take the example on page 15, begin reading:

Look, having nuclear—my uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John [T] at MIT; good genes, very good genes, okay, very smart, the Wharton School of Finance, very good, very smart—you know, if you’re a conservative Republican, if I were a liberal, if, like, okay, if I ran as a liberal Democrat, they would say I’m one of the smartest people anywhere in the world—it’s true!—but when you’re a conservative Republican they try—oh, do they do a number—that’s why I always start off: Went to Wharton, was a good student, went there, went there, did this, built a fortune—you know I have to give my like credentials all the time, because we’re a little disadvantaged—but you look at the nuclear deal, the thing that really bothers me—it would have been so easy, and it’s not as important as these lives are (nuclear is powerful; my uncle explained that to me many, many years ago, the power and that was 35 years ago; he would explain the power of what’s going to happen and he was right—who would have thought?), but when you look at what’s going on with the four prisoners—now it used to be three, now it’s four—but when it was three and even now, I would have said it’s all in the messenger; fellas, and it is fellas because, you know, they don’t, they haven’t figured that the women are smarter right now than the men, so, you know, it’s gonna take them about another 150 years—but the Persians are great negotiators, the Iranians are great negotiators, so, and they, they just killed, they just killed us.

What is the subject of this sentence?  Who can identify the predicate? Continue reading “Our Dullened Rhetorical Swords”

Conference Gives Milwaukee a Good — But Not Great — Progress Report as a Water Hub

Posted on Categories Milwaukee, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Water LawLeave a comment» on Conference Gives Milwaukee a Good — But Not Great — Progress Report as a Water Hub

Ten years ago, Marquette Law School sponsored a conference, “Milwaukee 2015: Water, Jobs, and the Way Forward.” Speakers at the conference, including Wisconsin’s then-Gov. Jim Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, put forward a vision of Milwaukee becoming a world leader in water expertise with a Milwaukee area economy boosted by an influx of water-based jobs and companies.

On Nov. 5, 2019, a decade later almost to the day, the Law School convened a follow up conference (titled “Milwaukee 2025: Water, Jobs, and the Way Forward”) with some of the same speakers, as well as others, to ask how things have been going and what lies ahead.

How would you rate Milwaukee’s record on becoming a water hub? Mayor Barrett responded that the area has moved in the right direction. “I won’t give us an A plus, I’ll give us a solid B for moving in that direction,” he said. “We have changed the perception of Milwaukee in a significant way in the last 10 years.”

Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell, a major proponent of the emphasis on water, said the goal in 2009 was to make Milwaukee a global center of excellence for all things related to water, “something like the CDC for water,” a reference to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Lovell said, “We have not gotten there yet; we are still striving to do so.” Milwaukee should be proud of what has been done, including the creation of The Water Council, the Global Water Center, and the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Lovell said. Continue reading “Conference Gives Milwaukee a Good — But Not Great — Progress Report as a Water Hub”

Welcome to Our November Alumni Blogger

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Our  alumni guest blogger for the month of November is Joe Riepenhoff, L’14, who is appearing for a return engagement, having been a student guest blogger back in October 2012. While at Marquette, Joe was a student advisory board member for the Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic, an intern for the Waukesha County Circuit Court criminal division judges, and research assistant for Prof. Daniel Blinka. Since graduating he has worked as a staff attorney for the Wisconsin State Public Defender Office, a conflicts analysts at Foley and Lardner, and is now a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.

Welcome back to the Faculty Blog, Joe!

Tommy Thompson Told His Daughter to Try Being a Public Defender –and It Launched Her Career

Posted on Categories Criminal Law & Process, Public, Speakers at Marquette, Wisconsin Criminal Law & ProcessLeave a comment» on Tommy Thompson Told His Daughter to Try Being a Public Defender –and It Launched Her Career

Kelli Thompson admits she wasn’t entirely eager to become a lawyer, particularly the kind involved in courtroom work. As a student at Marquette Law School, “I probably did a very, very good job of staying far, far away from any kind of trial advocacy or litigation type of class. I think my thought was I would get the J.D. behind my name and just do something else. The something else, I have no idea what that was going to be.”

But, she said during an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program at Eckstein Hall on October 15, 2019, “In my third year of law school, I think it was killing my father that I was not even considering going into a courtroom.”

Her father, by the way, is Tommy G. Thompson, who, at that time in the mid-1990s, was governor of Wisconsin.

Kelli Thompson recalled, “At that point in time, he certainly wasn’t pushy, but he said, ‘Before you decide you hate it (courtroom work), you at least have to try it.’ . . . He said Marquette has wonderful clinical programs.” He told his daughter to pick one. “I said, ‘OK, you pick for me because I don’t know what I want to do’ . . . He said, ‘There’s no doubt, public defender, you should go there.’

So she did. “I can say quite honestly, after my first couple of days, I was hooked,” Kelli Thompson said. Continue reading “Tommy Thompson Told His Daughter to Try Being a Public Defender –and It Launched Her Career”

Pro Bono Week: Student and Alumni Features, Part II

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For the remaining Pro Bono Week features, not only do we have some individual students and alumni, but we also feature a student organization as well. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram to see more photos throughout the week.

Our next student to be featured is Kelsey Brown. Kelsey is a 3L and will be graduating this December. Student at work in a pro bono clinicShe has been involved since October of her first year of law school and has participated with the House of Peace, UCC, Milwaukee Justice Center, and the Veteran’s Service Office throughout her law school tenure.

Her reasons for participating in pro bono opportunities: “I decided to do pro bono because I wanted to better educate people on the law. I felt that if people were better educated on the law, then they are in a better position to recognize and fight against unfair and unnecessary treatment against them. I also wanted to be a role model for individuals who come to the clinics. I wanted to show them that lawyers come in all shapes, sizes, and shades—just like them. And hopefully by seeing an African American female such as myself working at the clinic, they will see the legitimacy of the Wisconsin court system. My favorite thing about volunteering at is that everyone feels good—the client feels good because he or she received legal advice; and the volunteer law student/volunteer lawyer feel good because they helped a client understand the Wisconsin legal system.”

Salonee Patel is a 3L who has been working with the pro bono programs for about two and half years. She’s volunteered with the Milwaukee Justice Center in the past but you can primarily find her at the United Community Center this year. Students at work in a pro bono clinicShe is one of our Student Advisory Board members and says her favorite part is “working alongside attorneys and students to help our clients out with their legal issues.”

Salonee has many reasons for doing pro bono work. “It is important to volunteer and help out especially when you have the time and resources to do so,” she says, and “as a law student, not only do you start learning certain legal skills, but you also get to know your community better.”

Not only do individual students, participate in pro bono work, our student organizations do too. Continue reading “Pro Bono Week: Student and Alumni Features, Part II”

Wisconsin voters give Trump different ratings on the economy and foreign policy, but it doesn’t affect his overall job approval among partisans

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Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all give Trump higher ratings on the economy than on foreign policy, but this doesn’t affect their overall approval of Trump among members of either party.

Trump approval ratings among different parties

Republicans only give Trump a net +58% approval rating on foreign policy, but his overall net job approval matches that of his economic job approval (+83% and +84%, respectively).

Inversely, Democrats give Trump a net -78% rating on the economy, but their overall job approval is identical to their foreign policy approval at -94%.

Independents are more mixed. They give Trump a +8% net rating on the economy and a -31% rating on foreign policy. His overall approval lies in the middle at -10%.