is ironic that Sen. Cory Booker visited Milwaukee a few weeks after
the indictment of Dr. Michael Bonds, former Milwaukee Public Schools
(MPS) Board President and UW-Milwaukee faculty member. Both have
been intimately connected to the city’s school choice programs.
Bonds allegedly stuck his hand in the till for personal enrichment.
Booker, on the other hand, used the Milwaukee choice initiative as an
early jumpstart to his political career under the mentorship of Dr.
Howard Fuller, the nation’s foremost school choice advocate for
both Democratic and Republican national, state, and local
at “Coffee Makes You Black,” on North Teutonia
Avenue, Booker addressed gun violence prevention and criminal justice
reform which are also supported by his primary backers, members of
the Cartel of corporate reformers of public education. He recounted
the death of a young man (T-Bone) in Newark where he was Mayor, a
longstanding trope in his speeches about urban challenges. (However,
no one has ever been able to document that the specific incident even
occurred.) Booker was careful to avoid any mention of school choice
and gave only the most general references to public education.
was able to avoid any questions about his past championing of voucher
and charter schools and his demonization of teachers. Booker is
doing the electric slide toward teachers and African Americans as he
understands that they were key groups in electing Gov. Tony Evers (D)
last November. They will also determine the winner of Wisconsin’s
2020 Democratic Primary and, perhaps, the presidential election.
However, Booker’s past attacks on K-12 education are slowly
beginning to surface which explain, in part, his low standing in
national polls--between 2 and 4 percent.
late Dr. Michael Joyce, founding CEO of the Bradley Foundation, used
Booker as a poster child for school choice nationally during the late
1990s and the early 2000s. Joyce also surrounded him with Mikel
Holt, then editor of Wisconsin’s largest African American
newspaper, and the late Wisconsin State Representative Annette Polly
Williams who, along with Fuller, were also among the Bradley
Foundation’s continuing African American grantees. They
traveled the country and visited Booker in New Jersey spreading the
school choice message.
2012, he gave a keynote address to the Third Annual School Choice
Summit of the American Federation of Children (AFC) in Jersey City,
New Jersey (which the author attended as an observer and researcher).
There Booker was joined by his tutor, Dr. Fuller, also a featured
speaker, Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor, and then State
Representative Beth Coggs-Jones, who had received substantial
contributions from the Cartel and other members of the School choice
lobby. These Milwaukeeans were lionized as being from the school
choice mecca and for supposedly saving the educational lives of
African American children.
that time, corruption in voucher and charter school programs has
spread from Milwaukee to numerous other states. But despite his best
efforts, Booker has been unable to establish vouchers in New Jersey,
primarily because the per student payouts for charter schools is so
much higher. Nonetheless, like Milwaukee, New Jersey’s graft
and corruption has been traced to fly-by-night entrepreneurs, local
clergy, and hustlers who have scammed more than $4 billon from state
coffers. While this theft has been going on, these same communities
have allowed lead in the water, in low-income, disproportionately
minority communities, to increase exponentially and to poison the
water in schools serving millions of children of color in decaying
urban cities across the nation.
Flint and Milwaukee continue to face lead water challenges on a daily
basis, Booker was able to escape the Newark lead water crisis, which
occurred on his watch, in 2013 when he was elected to the U.S.
Senate. Yet, he tried to sell the Newark watershed prior to his
departure that would have covered his tracks. Booker’s
successor, Mayor Ras Baraka, is currently grappling with this
remains at the forefront of school choice as it is beginning to
crumble under its own weight of exploitation, sleaze, and bribery
that is coming to light after being covered up by Cartel acolytes
locally and nationally. Essential to this exposure will be teachers
and other supporters of public education whose voices and votes are
giving rise to a renaissance in K-12 public education. After losing
more than 50,000 students to voucher, partnership, and charter
schools since 1990, Milwaukee’s leadership is moving toward
embracing public education again despite the opposition of majority
and minority actors plotting to disassemble it.
will be those who succumb to the sirens of school choice as did
former MPS Board member Wendell Harris, who was defeated in a
landslide by his opponent in the April 2019 election. A long-term
NAACP leader, he had previously and vigorously opposed Howard Fuller
over the expansion of voucher and charter schools. But as the old
saying goes, “money talks and bull**** walks,”
unless you are really committed to something.
wave of teacher activism sweeping the nation, in the wake of assaults
on teachers and public education and Booker’s participation in
them should send him packing in the presidential primaries sooner
rather than later. Educators need to remind Booker of who he
actually is—a front for the Cartel lobby for the privatization
of K-12 public education. It can start in Milwaukee.