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A radical opinion?  Not if you're Jennifer Morales.  We'll get to this in a bit.

This week, former MPS Board member Jennifer Morales filed to run for the 8th District aldermanic seat - a seat long held by Alderman Bob Donovan.  Morales admits it won't be easy to unseat Donovan, but she promises to offer a new vision and a "style of leadership that's inclusive and not divisive."

Typically, when a politician promotes a new or bold vision, it's because they want to shift attention from their public service record.   We saw this with Barack Obama's bold promises of change against the political backdrop of a more experienced congressional veteran like John McCain.  Obama's campaign knew experience was McCain's strong suit, so he found a running mate with longtime experience and promoted a new brand of leadership - something newer and better than the cowboy President from Texas whose name we still dare not mention.

Let's face it, Alderman Donovan doesn't need to talk up a new vision because he's made a career of actually doing something.  His record in the community, his commitment to his constituents, and his responsiveness to their concerns have made him an attractive candidate for reelection.  Donovan is by no means an easy target; and Morales isn't exactly a new kind of leader.

In a recent statement to the media, Morales said that her leadership would be "inclusive and not divisive."  That's a remarkable sentiment considering her recent role in a public protest - engineered by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) - at an elementary school where Governor Scott Walker was scheduled to speak.  Morales joined protesters because she "wanted a chance to yell at the governor."  And she candidly told a local newspaper that Governor Walker "has no business being around children."

Apparently, being inclusive means including everyone except Governor Walker.  And not being divisive means protesting an elementary school for a chance to yell at your Governor.  Someone should ask Morales if yelling at the Governor actually changed things for the better, or if it instilled in our children a profound respect for their political leaders.  Because this was a major reason Governor Walker was invited to Messmer in the first place, to teach them the importance of education and a respect for political leadership.

One has to wonder if Morales' new vision is about protesting schools where 85% of their students go on to college to live meaningful and productive lives?  Morales' attendance at the Messmer School protest was further marred by vandalism and battery suggesting that she was either on the wrong side of the issue or at the very least came with the wrong people.

The night prior to the protest, a vandal super-glued shut eight doors at the school in an attempt to restrict entrance into the building.  Incidentally, there was also a report of battery.  As if it doesn't need to be emphasized, this is a place where children go to learn.  Much like protesting the Special Olympics, protesting an elementary school is beyond the pale and only shows how radical the opposition is.  Perhaps it shows how radical Jennifer Morales is?

As a former MPS Board member, Morales' attendance at the Messmer protest is disheartening.  Messmer Preparatory Catholic School is a participant in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) - a program recently expanded by the State Legislature amid vehement opposition by teachers' unions.  Expanding MPCP may not be the sort of education reform that Morales wants to see, but why deny poor children - many of whom are Hispanic - an opportunity to learn at good private schools like Messmer?

Perhaps Morales' new vision of leadership includes using children as political pawns in a public debate over school choice, or perhaps she's just looking for some street cred to stay relevant against an opponent who actually gets things done.  By saying that her new vision is one of inclusion and one opposed to divisiveness, we think Morales protesteth too much.

Comments (8)
  • Joanne  - Profound respect for political leaders?

    Is that what children are supposed to learn in school? What about critical thinking?

    Do you sincerely believe that a politician that has lied to his or her constituents deserves profound respect? Does someone who listens only to those who give him money deserve profound respect? Or should we respect the leaders who have the willingness to listen to both sides of an issue, grapple with conflicting truths, and who know how to reach compromise?

    People need to earn respect, not because they are political leaders, but because they are honorable.

  • Aaron M. Rodriguez  - About critical thinking


    I think we both know that protesters aren't the critical thinking type - that's why they chant with pre-scripted bumper slogans rather than engage people in real dialogue.

    To our children, a politician is someone of great importance because they are inseparable from the prestigious office they hold. Obviously as they grow, they will form different opinions. But an elementary school is not the appropriate place to stage a protest, nor is it a place to vandalize or commit battery.

    The Governor's office commands respect, and it's not just when a Democrat is in office. Democrats have made Wisconsin a very partisan state; there is no reason it should also spill over to our children.

  • Keith  - Joanne - what has Morales earn?

    Walker told us what he was going to do, stayed firm against the union thugs likeMorales and gave us a surplus. It is funny how people like you don't talk about the true and proven record that is Governor Walker. Wejo all know because you nutjobs cannot go by facts. Walker has earned respect. You mindless puppets need to get out of Wisconsin. You guys get creamed in the elections and want to stage recalls because you hate domocracy even though you want to chant and be hypocrites by yelling this is what democracy look like. Too bad those unions don't know this is a republic not a Democracy. Now move along little puppet.

  • Randy Radish  - RJ

    A so called minority leader that apparently wants to keep her kind, where they are. She can and may climb the ladder, but the rest should not. I am a parent of a Hispanic child that I adopted and I am stunned at times how some in the Hispanic community only expect "their Own" to go just so far.
    If she was part of that crap at Messmer....SHAME on her, she is not doing any kid that has the chance to go to Messmer any good. A lot of these kids just need the tools to become productive and she appraently wants to takes some of if not all of the tools away.

  • RFM  - Just like a conservative

    It's just like a conservative to focus on character assassination based on shoddy facts rather than engaging policy differences (protest " SEIU"? Often when folks familiar with the standards of true journalism make an unsubstantiated claim, they cite a source. You're welcome for the tip.).

    The true policy issue here is that this "Hispanic" blogger is a school choice booster. True to right-wing boosterism, he hides behind a facade of patriotism while pushing policies that erode one of our nation's most important global contributions: the universal right to a public education.

    So, Mr. Blogger, rather than spending your time supporting the privatization of public education in a veiled fashion, why don't you come out and say it? Then, instead of debating points about which we have no real information (has that "vandal" been caught and associated with the protest, or is this a Fox News-type blind association?), we can debate policy.

    Also, it should be noted that Walker's expansion of privatized choice education to subsidize rich children was "vehemently opposed" not just by teachers' unions, but by arguably Milwaukee's most important school choice supporter, Howard Fuller. (Citation: -- see how easy that is when you're making true statements?)


    Un lector bien arrepentido

  • Aaron M. Rodriguez  - Do you have a name?

    Right, because only conservatives character assassinate. Is this your way of engaging in policy differences?

    And you got me on the school choice issue. I am a school choice proponent because I believe parents ought to have more autonomy when it comes to the education of their children. Where you're incorrect is your assertion that I'm a proponent of school privatization. I'm for charter schools, which are by definition public schools. I'm essentially a proponent of any school that chooses to be innovative and chooses to involve parents more in the education process.

    And finally, your statement about subsidizing rich children is as absurd as much as it is a liberal talking point. Rich children will not - for the most part - attend choice schools. Do you really think that someone like Chris Abele will send his children to choice schools in Milwaukee or Racine, or do you think he will send them to some ritzy private school on the east coast? My bet is the latter.

    I am also interested in why you think Fuller is the most important school choice supporter? His role in spurring MPCP is undeniable, but he wasn't the only player involved. The program would have never been born if it weren't for Sue Mitchell, Scott Jensen, and Tommy Thompson. I respect Fuller, but I disagree with his school of thought. Giving only some parents the power of choice is not real social justice because it fails to treat all parents equally.

  • RFM  - Clarifications

    It's worrying how unaware folks engaging in this debate are regarding the radical right-wing social experiments being conducted on children of color in Milwaukee, and their relationship to privatization.

    First of all, let's be clear about charter and choice (which are not the same, mind you, so you should be careful about using those terms interchangeably). Both of these schools fit snugly within Wisconsin conservatives' new model for society: the promotion of the private interests of the rich, unbounded by regulation, and supported by taxpayer dollars.

    Yes, charter schools are public because they are supported by tax dollars. In fact, all the Milwaukee charter schools are fully funded before any MPS schools get to dig into the pot. But, charter schools aren't public in the sense that their accountability is extremely limited. So, for example, if a school wants to open with a military-style model, and pour cold water over misbehaving kids' heads, AND receive millions of dollars from tax coffers to do it, they can. (

    Nor are charter schools bound by pesky details of democracy like having highly qualified teachers, accepting all students regardless of disabilities, and having to answer to democratically-elected institutions like school boards.

    So, to engage your silly proposition that you don't support the privatization of public education: I think you do. Or, at least, the rich folks putting money in the pockets of the movement you support do.

    And, I'll just let you go on not acknowledging your misleading statements about SEIU (which doesn't represent public school employees, by the way), or your failure to engage with Howard Fuller's withdrawal of support from Walker's privatization experiment. Also, Scott Jensen, who now works for a school choice lobbying group, is a convicted criminal.

    But we can't really highlight the activities of individuals when we're all clear that it's outside monies coming from right-wing billionaires like the Walton Family, the DeVos family, and probably with a little help from Milwaukee's own Bradley Foundation, correct? I ask because I assume the puppet group "Hispanics for School Choice" is probably being controlled economically by some of these same, or similar, well-to-do people, often non-Hispanic?

    So, maybe you should start asking questions about who funds the organizations you work for, and what their agendas are. Do you really think the Walton family's and your interests are one and the same with the interests of Hispanic kids?

  • Aaron M. Rodriguez  - On those clarifications


    You still haven't provided a name. At some point, I would like to know who I'm talking with.

    So getting started, I think your statement that school choice reform is a "radical right wing social experiment being conducted on children of color" is telling. You've managed to inject race into a reform program that has been most advantageous to Milwaukee's Latino population in two ways. First, schools like St. Anthony's School have demonstrated most remarkable aptness in educating student bodies with Spanish as their primary language. Their academic innovations are not based upon bureaucratic regulation, but consumer demand. Second, parochial schools have less racial segregation than their public school counterparts, which means a better learning environment for Hispanic children. So this radical right wing experiment seems to be a benefit to children of color, just ask their parents.

    Also, providing parents with a broader assortment of school options is not a radical idea, but instinctive and progressive. When you shop for food at the grocery store, do you want more brands on the shelf or a monopoly by a single producer?

    Secondly, you speak of less accountability, but I ask to whom should schools be more accountable? Should they be more accountable to government bureaucracies or more accountable to the actual consumer? I say that the former doesn't work and hasn't worked for nearly 30 years - at least not at MPS. The graduation rates of MPS over the years are deplorable - scoring at the bottom rung of the nation - and has lagged only behind the schools of Detroit. This what we should expect when the education system that is centrally planned.

    Thirdly, Scott Jensen is not a criminal. He was never convicted.

    And fourthly, all the Executive Board members of Hispanics for School Choice are Hispanic. Polling indicates - both locally and nationally - that Hispanic parents favor school choice, which is fascinating. Why do you suppose that poor Latino families - with no penchant for political activism - support school choice over traditional public schools?

    The bottom line is that you're on the losing side of the argument. No matter how you slice it, incorporating the free market into our education system provides parents with more choice - some good and some bad - but ultimately it's up to the parent to decide. What the government can and should do is provide a framework of rules for private sector schools to follow ensuring that parents make informed choices about school enrollment. You want teachers to be certified? Fine, certify them. Just don't tell our parents that taxpayer money cannot be used for choice schools.

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