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James K. Nelson wrote "Educating Milwaukee" on segregation and schools in Milwaukee.
James K. Nelson wrote "Educating Milwaukee" on segregation and schools in Milwaukee.

5 things I learned about Milwaukee's school segregation history

James K. Nelsen is a history teacher at Golda Meir High School who decided to turn his senior thesis into a book. Finally after 18 years, reading 162 books, studying 964 endnotes and going through 1,000-plus news articles, he did just that with "Educating Milwaukee: How One City's History of Segregation and Struggle Shaped Its Schools," published by Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

He gave a lecture at UWM’s Golda Meir Library on Tuesday about Milwaukee Public Schools segregation problem pre-1976, providing plenty for those in attendance to chew on, including these five points.

1. Black and white kids were kept apart in the same building

Before 1976, the Milwaukee school board wasn’t all that different from many other cities in wanting to keep black and white students from being able to learn and socialize together. One tactic implemented was "intact busing." In this ridiculous system, meant to provide temporary relief to overcrowding in black schools, black children were bused to white schools for their classes. However, when they arrived at the school, they could still only learn in a blacks-only classroom.

It wasn’t any different at lunch time. The black children didn’t just have their own lunch hour at the white school; they had their own lunch hour back at their old school so they could mingle with students of their own color. The same happened with recess. So black kids would have to make three bus trips, back and forth, just because their skin color happened to be different.

2. School board approved new schools to be built in predominantly black neighborhoods

At face value, this sounds like a positive for people who wanted their kids to go a school near their home. However, the school board decided it would rather build not just one but numerous schools just so it wouldn’t have to bus students to the South Side and allow them to mingle with white kids.

3. If segregated schools were overcrowded, they would send white kids back to an al…

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One UWM student at the debate last night offers her take on the two candidates.
One UWM student at the debate last night offers her take on the two candidates.

A college student's perspective on last night's Democratic debate

As an informed college student who was picked to attend the Democratic debate held Thursday night at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I have some thoughts on what was said by both the candidates.

The debate touched on many issues close to my heart, one of which is about universal health care. Bernie Sanders compared America to other countries where healthcare is guaranteed, like the U.K., where the people spend three times less per capita and 50 percent less than in France. I appreciate the comparisons because America has more wealth than these countries. Shouldn’t we be able to have healthcare available for everyone? Should we really have the highest prescription prices in the world, as Sanders pointed out? A whopping 29 million people without coverage is rather staggering.

While Sanders wants to copy other countries, Clinton felt Sanders should solely focus on ours even though their system works better. Although Sanders wants to build healthcare coverage from the bottom up, Clinton just wants to focus on the 10 percent not being covered currently which makes more sense in her eyes. However, if something isn’t working incredibly well, why finish it? Why not create a healthcare plan that’s great than rather than just mediocre?

To get good healthcare, you need a good job. To get a good job, you need a college degree – which costs thousands and thousands of dollars. The ever increasing tuition rate is a problem for many students including myself. Clinton says she has a compact which would give students debt free tuition, which sounds great compared to what we have now. I’m personally $20,000 in the hole currently so this idea sounds pretty good. Her plan would cost 35 billion.

However, Sanders proposed that, since we bailed out Wall Street, they should pay a tax so public colleges and universities are tuition free. "We bailed them out. Now it is their time to help the middle class," he argued. Sanders also mentioned that having a college degree…

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Florentine Opera will fill the air with romantic songs on Valentine's Day weekend.
Florentine Opera will fill the air with romantic songs on Valentine's Day weekend. (Photo: florentineopera.org)

Florentine Opera delivers a Valentine's Day combo of romance and music

It could be candy or flowers or a stuffed bear or a quiet dinner for two or a hot fudge sundae at Kopp's or a movie or walk through Lake Park while holding hands.

But nothing says "I love you" like great romantic music.

And there is going to be nothing like the music from the Florentine Opera to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

There is a temptation to think that Valentine’s Day is the creation of the florist industry, kind of like Best Friend’s Day or My Favorite Teacher Day. But it’s a real holiday with roots stretching back to the Middle Ages.

This Valentine’s weekend is going to feature some of the most romantic songs from the world of opera, light opera and musical theater thanks to the Florentine's "Vienna: City of My Dreams," a romantic revue coming to Vogel Hall in the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Friday, Feb. 12 through Sunday, Feb. 14.

One treat will be the four artists singing the classic "Edelweiss." You can see the four Von Trapp great grandchildren singing it here, but I'd bet the Florentine version will be significantly better. 

Four Florentine Studio Artists will perform: soprano Ariana Douglas, mezzo-soprano Katherine Fill, tenor Thomas Leighton and baritone Leroy Y. Davis. Accompanying them will be pianist Ruben Pilirainen and double bassist Barry Paul Clark.

Another highlight will be the fashions designed by Timothy Westbrook, a former Pfister Hotel Artist in Residence and "Project Runway" contestant now working as a designer in New York.

Information on tickets and showtimes for the event is available here.

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Pere Marquette Park is one of the venues participating in Fringe Fest.
Pere Marquette Park is one of the venues participating in Fringe Fest.

Milwaukee Fringe Festival premieres this summer

Milwaukee Fringe Festival, a new, city-wide art festival, is a two-day performance and visual art event celebrating Milwaukee’s arts scene.

The non-profit event is open to emerging and experienced artists and will showcase local theater, music, dance, comedy and visual art. All of the events will be free or at a low cost.

Milwaukee Fringe Fest will take place Saturday, Aug. 27 and Sunday, Aug. 28 at Pere Marquette Park, Marcus Center’s Wilson Theater at Vogal Hall, Todd Wehr Theater and surrounding venues.

In addition, Fringe Fest will feature food trucks and a beer garden provided by Old German Beer Hall.

Milwaukee Fringe Festival is presented by renowned television and film actor Willem Dafoe, John Schneider (Theatre Professor at Marquette University, Theater X), Eric Engelbart (Shepherd Express), Matt Kemple (Milwaukee Comedy Festival), Karen Raymond and Katie Rhyme (MKE Follies) and Brian Rott (Quazimondo Physical Theatre).

Those interested in sharing their work can apply here, beginning Monday, Feb. 15. The submission fee is $15 until March 1 and $20 through March 31.

"Fringe Fest is a collaborative, interactive, inter-generational, multidisciplinary performance exhibition meant to thank the people of Milwaukee for sustaining an environment in which the arts are genuinely valued and great work is possible," says Schneider.