Milwaukee's Choice Program Analysis

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Milwaukee’s long and deep history of racial segregation led to an equally significant relationship with choice schools. It was the first city to implement a choice program, and this program grew to be one of the largest in the nation (Borsuk 2009). This choice giant was created as a result of low rates of academic achievement across the board in Milwaukee. At the beginning, the creators of Milwaukee’s choice program sought to raise the city’s academic achievement rate, especially when it came to the communities of color. In fact, its creation was greatly influenced by the local African American civil rights movement. Activists within this movement sought to create a system where students of color were able to choose their own schools rather …show more content…
After its implementation, Milwaukee’s choice program took off and began to rapidly spread across the district and into neighboring towns. Along the way, though, much of the specific focus around race fell to the wayside as choice schools were largely made up of white students and students from families with high levels of financial and academic support (Nelsen 2012: 320-325). This didn’t dissuade supporters and it seemed that any increase in academic achievement was enough, even though it was only white students and families who continued to reap the benefits. The program continued to expand, with many attempting to make improvements along the way. However, not enough was done to bridge the gap between communities of color and white families (Nelsen 2012: 328). The lack of a busing system or consideration for the human capital necessary for utilizing this program allowed white families to have an advantage over families of color. The effects of this lack of consideration for racial systems of inequality can be felt today as the city of Milwaukee continues to struggle with its segregation problem and more students of students of color continue to fall behind …show more content…
It’s not as if race hasn’t been a part of the conversation, however it hasn’t been discussed in a manner that gets to the actual root of the problem. This reveals the importance of understanding the problem rather than seeking to label each system racist. (Wacquant 1997: 227). The point isn’t to place the entire responsibility of segregation on the shoulders of Milwaukee’s choice program. However, one has to recognize that it is a subsystem within the larger cyclical system of racial discrimination. While the role of choice schools may seem small, their contribution to this system is large as it interacts with the many other subsystems, such as the labor market, housing market, and human capital accumulation (Reskin 2012: 20-21). This choice program should not be labeled an intrinsically segregated system, but the reality of how it contributes to the existing disparities needs to be evaluated and recognized in order to move

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