Synopses & Reviews
In a magisterial work of narrative nonfiction that weaves together the racially fraught history of public education in Milwaukee and the broader story of hypersegregation in the rust belt, Lessons from the Heartland
tells of an iconic citys fall from grace—and of its chance for redemption in the twenty-first century.
A symbol of middle American working-class values and pride, Wisconsin—and in particular urban Milwaukee—has been at the forefront of a half-century of public education experiments, from desegregation and school choice,” to vouchers and charter schools. Picking up where J. Anthony Lukass Pulitzer Prize–winning Common Ground left off, Lessons from the Heartland offers a sweeping narrative portrait of an All-American city at the epicenter of American public education reform, and an exploration of larger issues of race and class in our democracy. Miner (whose daughters went through the Milwaukee public school system and who is a former Milwaukee Journal reporter) brings a journalists eye and a parents heart to exploring the intricate ways that jobs, housing, and schools intersect, underscoring the intrinsic link between the future of public schools and the dreams and hopes of democracy in a multicultural society.
This book will change the way we think about the possibility and promise of American public education.
"Intensively, extensively, and specifically about the politics of public education in one American city, the issues Miner raises are of great importance to all those concerned with how our society educates its children."
"In her inimitable style, Barbara Miner has written an explosive educational biography of her hometown. The story of Milwaukee is really the multi-layered tale of how America has long avoided committing to the education of low-income students of color. A must read for anyone seeking the real back story of our educational policy-making."
Lisa Delpit, bestselling author of Multiplication Is for White People” and Other Peoples Children
"What a great read! Miner's story of Milwaukee is filled with memorable characters and powerful events that have national resonance. Through Milwaukee, she explores with consummate skill the dynamics of race, politics, and schools in our time."
Mike Rose, Professor of Social Research Methodology in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, author of Back to School, Why School and The Mind at Work
"Lessons from the Heartland is a social history with the pulse and pace of a carefully crafted novel and a Dickensian cast of unforgettable characters. With the eye of an ethnographer, the instincts of a beat reporter, and the heart of a devoted mother and citizen activist, Miner has created a compelling portrait of a city, a time, and a people on the edge. This is essential reading."
Bill Ayers, author of To Teach: The Journey in Comics and Teaching Toward Freedom, co-editor of City Kids, City Schools
Miner eloquently captures the narratives of schoolchildren, parents, and teachers. . . . Readers in and around Wisconsin will especially find this title of interest, as will educators who wish to avoid Milwaukees pitfalls.”
Lessons from the Heartlanda beautifully written piece of narrative nonfictiontells of the fall from grace of an iconic city in Americas heartland, Milwaukee, and the chance for redemption in the twenty-first century. Beginning in the 1950s and focusing on public education, Miner brings a journalists eye and a parents heart to weave together story-telling and hard-hitting analysis. She explores the connections between jobs, housing and schoolsand the far-reaching, pernicious effects of the citys hypersegregation. She makes clear the intrinsic link between the future of public education and the dreams and hopes of democracy in a multicultural society.
As Miner underscores, the beauty of history is that it never stands still. In the early months of 2011, Wisconsin became ground zero in the fight to save Americas middle class and its public institutions, in particular public education. Across America, progressives embraced the slogan, We Are Wisconsin.”
All politics are local, but with unending repercussions the Milwaukee story is the Wisconsin story, which is the nations story. This book tells that story.
About the Author
has been a reporter, writer, and editor for almost forty years, writing for publications ranging from the New York Times
to the Milwaukee Journal
. The former managing editor of Rethinking Schools
, she has co-edited numerous books on education, including Rethinking Columbus
. Miner lives in Milwaukee.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Milwaukee, Public Schools, and the Fight
for Americas Future xi
Part I. Segregation, Prosperity, and Protests: 1950s and 1960s
1. The Glory Days of 1957 3
2. The 1950s: Milwaukees Black Community Comes of Age 16
3. 1964: Freedom Schools Come to Milwaukee 29
4. Milwaukee Loves George Wallace 41
5. Milwaukees Great Migration #1: Blacks Move from the
South to the Inner Core 44
6. 1965: Direct Action Targets Intact Busing” 48
7. 1967 68: Open Housing Moves to Center Stage 61
Part II. Desegregation, Deindustrialization, and Backlash:
1970s and 1980s
8. Brown and Milliken: The U.S. Supreme Court
Advances and Retreats 71
9. January 19, 1976: The Court Rules—Milwaukees Schools
Are Segregated 76
10. September 7, 1976: The Buses Roll and Desegregation Begins 88
11. 1981: Police Brutality Moves to Center Stage 101
12. Milwaukees Great Migration #2: Whites Move to
the Suburbs 108
13. The 1980s: Th e Rust Belt and Reaganomics 114
14. Desegregation: Forward and Backward in the 1980s 123
15. Latino Students: Moving Beyond Black and White 138
16. Money: The Root of All Solutions 146
Part III. Resegregation, Abandonment, and a New Era of Protest:
1990s and 2000s
17. 1990: Vouchers Pass, Abandonment Begins 155
18. Voucher Crossfire: Fighting for the Soul of
Public Education 172
19. Multicultural Crossfi re: Redefi ning the Public
School Curriculum 178
20. 1993 95: White Voters Reject New Schools for Black
Children, and Things Fall Apart 188
21. 1995: Vouchers for Religious Schools,
Abandonment Advances 198
22. 1999: (Re)Segregation Déjà Vu—Neighborhood Schools
and Open Enrollment 217
23. Milwaukees Great Migration #3: Global Immigrants
Make Milwaukee Their Home 233
24. 200210: No Child Left Behind. Really? 237
25. 2011: The Heartland Rises Up, and a New Era of
Protest Begins 250