From Kirkus Reviews
A timely history of the struggle for school choice in Milwaukee that is also an eloquent plea for changes in the civil rights movement, which Holtfounder and editor of Milwaukee Community Journal, Wisconsins largest African-American publicationcontends has failed to address an urban education crisis that especially affects minority children. In essence Holt has written two books, the first an absorbing history of the struggle, ultimately successful, for school choice in Milwaukee. The second, a review of the current status of the civil rights movement, its leaders and goals, is thoughtful and germane but less original and more repetitive. The first part, however, is a tale that reads like a political whodunit as the bad guysnot always the usual suspectstry to defeat the good guys, who are saved by equally surprising supporters. As busing became mandatory, whites fled Milwaukee for the suburbs, and the city schools began a precipitous decline. By the 1970s, black parents alarmed by their children's falling test scores (the GPA in 13 of Milwaukee's 15 high schools fell to less than a 2.0) and the increasing dropout rate (which stood in city schools at more than double the state average) wanted change. Tired of dealing with an unresponsive school board, self-serving unions, and racist teachers, black activists and parents formed the Milwaukee Federation of Independent Community Schools to lobby the state to provide vouchers for low-income parents wishing to send their children to parochial schools. The movement, championed by charismatic Polly Williams, was opposed by the Democratic party, the NAACP, and the School Board, but in 1998, with the help of Republican Governor Thompson, the conservative Bradley Foundation, and the strenuous efforts of the parents, the US Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of Wisconsin's school choice program. A heartfelt celebration of parents defying prejudice and bureaucracy to get the best education for their children. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Mikel Holt is editor and associate publisher of the Milwaukee Community Journal, Wisconsin's largest-circulated African-American newspaper.