Why would Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, running for governor, continue an apparently losing fight on a controversial local issue that doesn’t gain him any votes statewide while tearing apart his political base at home?
Barrett’s attempt to seize control of Milwaukee Public Schools from the elected School Board failed to muster enough support in the Legislature recently to even bring up the issue after Gov. Jim Doyle called a special session. The Legislature adjourned without discussing mayoral control.
Meanwhile, the Milwaukee School Board, under the leadership of President Michael Bonds, has narrowed its national search for a new superintendent down to three finalists — two African-Americans and a Latino — all with experience in urban school districts.
Extending an olive branch, Bonds invited Barrett to personally interview the three finalists and make a recommendation to the board.
He also named Barrett to a community panel advising the board on the selection. The diverse committee includes Alphonso Thurman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee dean of education, state Rep. Annette Polly Williams, former Mayor Marvin Pratt, private philanthropist Julia Uihlein and prominent Latino, Hmong, American Indian and union leaders.