Monday, September 26th, 2016

Paging the Chief of Staff

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I want to respond to Bill Christofferson at length. Christofferson writes in response to my call for an apology,

If there is any apology due anyone, it is an apology from Sykes to Jim Doyle, for equating him with two racist governors who tried to keep black students out of public schools.

Doyle has offered a reasonable compromise on this issue. The Republicans insist on an all-or-nothing approach.

It is the Republicans and their allies who are blocking the doorway and creating a crisis that does not have to exist.

It’s not about the kids. It’s about scoring cheap political points at any price, at the expense of Jim Doyle,who has been committed his entire life to the fight for racial equality. It’s not lip service with Doyle; it’s the way he’s lived his life. As most people learned for the first time in the last governor’s race, the Doyles have two African-American sons.

I guess that’s probably one of the things that set me off when I heard what Sykes calls his “spot.” Jim Doyle is the antithesis of a racist. But he is being portrayed as one, and it’s not very subtle.

Hell, yes, there should be an apology. Sykes should apologize on the air to Jim Doyle.

Let me point out that I’m confident the Doyles love their children very much. But I would question whether the Doyles would ever feel comfortable sending their children to a Milwaukee Public School. I doubt Christofferson would feel comfortable sending his children to a Milwaukee Public School. That there a large number of African Americans in Milwaukee that have no choice but to send their children to a Milwaukee Public School should at least make Doyle and Christofferson pause, even shudder.

And then there’s the use of Doyle’s children to defend a policy choice by the Doyle Administration. Christofferson should be ashamed of himself. On a variant of the old, “Some of my best friends are black” Christofferson trots out Doyle’s children like they’re ideological symbols rather than family members. If anyone owes an apology to Governor Doyle, it’s Christofferson.

Christofferson knows that Doyle’s family doesn’t make Doyle immune from criticism pointing out his educational policies are directly harmful to the African American community. Christofferson knows that Doyle’s family doesn’t make him immune from the criticism that he’s selling out his African American constituents because the teachers unions only want diplomas issued in this state stamped with the union label. Christofferson knows that Doyle’s family doesn’t immunize him from criticism that teacher union money and support are more important to him than the education of African American children in Milwaukee.

At least Christofferson ought to know these things. After all, he was at one time Chief of Staff to former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist. Norquist was an outspoken proponent of school choice. I guess the question we need to ask Christofferson now is, was it all just politics?

Christofferson puts side-by-side the two proposals: the Vukmir/Darling proposal and the governor’s proposal. Tell me Bill honestly, which proposal deals strictly with lifting the cap of the school choice program while providing more accountability, and which proposal is about feeding the beast of MPS? The Republican proposal deals directly with the issue at hand, while the governor’s proposal does an inadequate job of allowing the enrollment to increase and he further burdens his proposal with new ways to throw money at MPS.

Clearly, the Doyle proposal is the one playing politics with the education of African American students in Milwaukee. The Bill Christofferson who worked for John Norquist ought to be able to recognize it.

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