“Separate and Unequal,” 62 years later

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Written by: Jamaal Smith

On May 17, 1954, a landmark decision was made when the United State Supreme Court ruled state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students as unconstitutional. In a unanimous 9-0 decision, the Warren Court stated that “separate educational facilities were inherently unequal,” and violated the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. The Brown decision was pivotal in the fight for integration during the Civil Rights era. The expectation was that ALL children would have equal access to quality education and opportunity, which should be a fundamental right, regardless of race. However, 62 years since the historic “great equalizer” decision, black and brown students are again the targets of racial inequality within the educational system.


Emma Brown, columnist for The Washington Post, recently reported that, according to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, “the number of high-poverty schools serving primarily black and brown students more than doubled between 2001 and 2014.” This study is holding true in the state of Wisconsin, as GOP lawmakers have devised laws that continue supporting “separate and unequal” practices. One of those strategies was the elimination of the Chapter 220 program, which allowed for students of color from high-poverty neighborhoods to attend schools in predominantly white suburban school districts. In addition, two Republican legislators, State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), created the Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program, a law intended to hand underfunded MPS schools to private, unaccountable operators. Cities like New Orleans and Detroit have been subjected to similar “Recovery Districts” with catastrophic results, but the commonality that exists between those cities and Milwaukee is that these laws are constantly imposed on black and brown communities without input. The OSPP legislation was passed in the middle of the night without a public hearing even taking place.


The OSPP legislation hands authority to a Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele with no college degree, who appointed Dr. Demond Means, Superintendent of the predominantly white Mequon-Thiensville School District, as the Commissioner over a predominately nonwhite district. Abele and Means created a proposal that claims MPS can still remain in tact even if one of the schools were moved under the OSPP district, which is inconsistent with the law. At a recent debate with MTEA Executive Director Lauren Baker at Marquette University, Rep. Kooyenga even stated that he was not a supporter of Dr. Means’ proposal because it counters what was written in the legislation. What is most disconcerting with Abele and Dr. Means is that they both admit the OSPP legislation is an unjust law, but insist the democratically elected school board of MPS should give up local control of their publicly-funded schools. Based on this rational, Civil Rights leaders should not have fought against the injustices within Jim Crow because they were law, right. Or the Black Codes, which brought about involuntary labor on freed slaves for minor “infractions” passed by southern states after the Civil War.


Just as it was not acceptable to comply with an unjust law then, the same ideology should exist on unjust laws now. An unjust law is no law at all!


We must continue the fight against modern day segregation and racial discrimination within our education system. Our children deserve our efforts to stand up for their future just as those before us stood for ours. Bishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” In the face of an obvious wrong, the time is now to stand and fight for what is right!

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Citywide Convening to Stop the Takeover of MPS

Stand up for the public schools our students deserve! Save the date!


Join us on Saturday, December 5th as students, parents, educators, and community allies collaborate to build a longterm strategy that both defeats the proposed Takeover of MPS, while also laying the groundwork for a new vision that embraces the successful public community schools model.

This meeting, which is being organized and planned by concerned MPS parents will both educate and activate those willing to take the necessary steps to reach these goals. Parents, educators, community members, students are all invited!

This event is being organized by Schools and Communities United. More details coming so check back on this page for updates.

Facebook event page is here.

Speak Up for Pulaski High School Students | 10/5

What: MPS Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver and School Board director Bonds have scheduled two meetings at Pulaski High School (Oct. 5th and 12th) to try and sell their Takeover of Pulaski. We know that no matter how much they try to dress up this Takeover as a good thing that Pulaski will not be handed over to privately-run charter schools that operate outside the democratically elected school board. Let’s show up and show out for our students and the future of public education in Wisconsin. Not one student, not one school takeover!
Read how this experiment isn’t working in New York City here.
Where charters operate in independent buildings, the differences in resources are less stark. But co-location forces each side to contend with the fact that the charters are able to offer their students far greater advantages while siphoning off resources from children on the other side of the building. In New York, it is particularly acute as students at traditional schools are in dire need while charters enjoy the spoils of both public funding and wealthy private benefactors. It may be co-location, more than any other factor, that has frayed the nerves of parents, teachers and students, and stirred a debate that has taken a decidedly polarizing and political tone.
When: Monday, October 5th from 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Where: Pulaski High School
 RSVP to attend here.
Updates on this event and the attempt to take over Pulaski can be found here.
Updates on the attempt to take over MPS can be found here.
October 5th Facebook event page can be found here.
October 12th Facebook event page can be found here.

Thousands in Milwaukee & La Crosse “Walk In” for Public Schools & Against Takeover

A photo from Kagel School's Friday walk in.

A photo from Kagel School’s Friday walk in.

105 Milwaukee Public Schools were joined by 14 La Crosse schools in hosting morning “Walk Ins” to demonstrate the widespread support for public schools in the city and the unified outrage over a Takeover that rips local and democratic control from the people of Milwaukee.  This Storify aptly captures the story of many of the schools who took part in the Friday day of action through the social media posts of those involved. ENJOY!


105 Milwaukee Public Schools & Entire La Crosse District Ready to “Walk In” on Friday 9/18

105 Milwaukee Public Schools, all 14 La Crosse schools will be taking part in the Friday, September 18th day of action in support of quality public schools for ALL students. Each event will also share information about how public school takeovers will hurt our students and deny critical services, such as bilingual education and special education.

Why walk in?

Watch video of a walk in.

Click on the school you want to RSVP to walk in at:




Allen Field

Alliance High School

Audubon Middle & High School

Auer Avenue

Barbee Montessori


Bay View High School


Bradley Tech High School


Brown Street Academy



Cass Street: No event page created. Walk in starts a 7:00am

Clarke Street

Clara Barton





Craig Montessori



Eighty-First Street




Fifty-Third Street

Forest Home


French Immersion


German Immersion: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.


Golda Meir Upper and Lower campus



Greenfield Bilingual

Groppi: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

Hamilton High School




Hayes Bilingual: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.


Honey Creek

Hopkins Lloyd

Howard Avenue Montessori

Humboldt Park




Keefe Avenue



Lincoln Avenue: No event created. Walk in starts at 7:00am



MLK Elementary


Madison (JMAC)


Maryland Montessori


Milwaukee High School of the Arts (MHSA)

Milwaukee School of Languages

Milwaukee Sign Language


Morse Marshall


New School

Ninety-Fifth Street: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

North Division High School

Obama: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.



Project STAY




River Trail

Riverside University High School

Rogers Street Academy

Roosevelt MS of the Arts

Rufus King High School

Rufus King Middle School


Silver Spring

South Division High School

Starms Discovery: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.

Starms Early Childhood Center




Thurston Woods: No event page created. Walk in starts at 7:00am.





Washington High School

Westside I


Photo sent from La Crosse Education Association.

Photo sent from La Crosse Education Association.

La Crosse School walking in.

Central HS
Logan HS
Logan MS
Lincoln MS
Longfellow MS
Southern Bluffs Elementary,
Spence Elementary,
State Road Elementary,
Hintgen Elementary,
Hamilton Elementary,
Emerson Elementary,
Northside Elementary
Coulee Montessori,
Northwoods Elementary,
Summit Elementary.


Out of the Pews and Into the Streets to Stop the Takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools

    Rev Willie Brisco speaking at a recent walk-in in support of oublic education and against the Takeover of MPS at North Division High School.

Rev Willie Brisco speaking at a recent walk-in in support of public education and against the Takeover of MPS at North Division High School.

Via MICAH (Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope

We will gather at Bethesda Baptist Church for a prayer vigil to move out of our faith communities and into our larger community, joining our Schools and Communities United partners, to confront the proposed takeover of our civil right to a voice in our public schools.
We will emerge from worship to lock arms in the struggle, with our coalition partners.
We will march to Hopkins Lloyd Community School to surround our beloved community school with our support. This school belongs to its hard-won community, not to those who would strip our rights and our legacy.

When: Thursday, June 11th @ 4:30pm – 6:30pm

Where: Bethesda Baptist Church Inc (2909 N 20th St, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53206)

Facebook event page can be found here.