Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half-Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City

Barbara J. Miner. New Press, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59558-829-6
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Informed by the various perspectives provided by her multiple roles (an informed journalist who attended public schools and whose children attended public schools), Miner traces the predominantly downward path of a city that was the setting for Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. How, she asks, did Milwaukee become a national symbol of joblessness, decline, and racial disparity? Attentive to the broader racial issues in housing and employment, Miner’s primary focus is upon the tribulations of public education; she delineates the city’s trajectory from segregated but prosperous city in the 1950s and 1960s, through the desegregation efforts and backlash of the 1970s and 1980s, and into a resegregation coupled with inner-city abandonment during the 1990s and 2000s. Enriched and enlivened by her deep relationship with the city, this is very much a book about Milwaukee, but the journalist in Miner locates her historical account within the wider context of national events. While political controversies are presented in detail that borders on the parochial, the cumulative impact confirms Miner’s assertion that “[a]ll politics is local, but with national repercussions.” 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. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/17/2012
Release date: 01/01/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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