GOP Influence Grows in Strong Democratic Milwaukee

By Robert Miranda and Chris Johnson of KINGFISHmke

November 18, 2015

In the last 30 years, the Democratic Party stronghold in Milwaukee has been weakening since the rise of private voucher schools. Before former Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) Superintendent Howard Fuller started the direct assault against public education in the early 1990s, and after Black leaders grew frustrated, expressing concerns that MPS was not reflecting the cultural and racial make-up of Milwaukee in the ranks of MPS.

Much of the early rot can be read in the book, “Seeds of Crisis: Public Schooling in Milwaukee Since 1920″.

On the heels of the Civil Rights movement, Black leaders began to aggressively complain in the late 1970s that Black children were not receiving an education comparable to the rest of the public schools around Wisconsin. The target of their complaint was the teacher’s union, which did not respond to demands that MPS hire more Black teachers to deal with the growing number of Black children enrolling in MPS.

The lack of responses by MPS leaders throughout the 1980s to address the concerns of Black community leaders, who mostly were Democrats, forced leaders of the Black community to seek alternative relief, which would strengthen their resolve against teacher union indifference.

Then Governor Tommy Thompson and his GOP were eager to provide an ear for Black leaders to voice their contempt and, more importantly, gain entry into Milwaukee’s growing Black electoral voting base.

GOP Privatizes Public Dollars

In the early 1990s, Fuller was joined by then Democratic Wisconsin state Assemblyperson Annette “Polly” Williams and the push to advance private voucher schools began.

The GOP was more than happy to support their effort because they saw this as an opportunity to begin the drive to create a GOP stronghold in Milwaukee.

Establishing a GOP base in the Black community by using private voucher schools gave the GOP the opening to begin organizing in Milwaukee in order to weaken the Democratic base in the city the Democratic Party counted on for years.

Since Fuller’s departure as superintendent of MPS in 1997, the private voucher school movement has grown in Milwaukee and in doing so, the Democratic Party has slowly grown weak in the Black community. Witness the recent vote of MPS Director Wendell Harris, a long time advocate for public education, but who voted against the union opposition to a charter school being established at Pulaski High School. 

Now, it seems that the GOP has found a new base in which to establish another GOP front in Milwaukee.

After more than 30 years of police brutality and unarmed Black citizens losing their lives at the hands of a majority White police department, frustrated Black leaders have once again taken to reaching out to the GOP in search of resolve.

The recent action by Black activists to charge Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm with malfeasance, neglect of duty and official misconduct, by asking Gov. Scott Walker to begin the process of removing the DA from office, is yet another GOP strategic effort to increase its presence in the city and serve revenge to Walker, who believes that Chisholm overreached in the D.A.’s John Doe investigation on Walker; in essence, killing two birds with one stone.

The Democratic Party has no one to blame but themselves for not acting and doing what needs to be done to ensure its Democratic base stays strong.

Black lives may not matter, but Black votes do.

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on November 18, 2015

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